Monday, October 31, 2022

Why I think Ithaqua is cool

 October is almost done. Time for one more Mythos post!

One of my personal favorite Great Old Ones and my favorite that wasn’t made up by H.P. Lovecraft is Ithaqua, the Wind Walker.

A big part of that is one of my earliest exposures to Mythos was a collection of Wendigo legends, stories and anthropology references that I can’t seem to find any record of. (Mostly because pop culture has now become super saturated with Wendigo and there’s so much out there) It included The Thing That Walked On the Wind and Ithaqua.

I know that there is plenty of nostalgia involved but I think Ithaqua is Derleth’s best addition to the Mythos.

But there is an additional reason why I think Derleth’s creation of Ithaqua is so solid. He blatantly and pretty openly stole quite a bit from Algernon Blackwood’s novella The Wendigo.

Blackwood’s story has informed so much of the popular idea of The Wendigo. Heck, a simplified version of the story is in the children’s book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Even if you don’t know you know the story, you probably know it. If ‘oh my burning feet of fire’ rings a bell, this story is where that comes from.

The elevator sketch is that a hunting guide gets taken by the Wendigo, possibly partially transformed into a Wendigo himself. While the lost guide, or the Wendigo disguised as him, briefly reappears, the guide does not truly reappear until they find him dying of exposure.

One of the reoccurring motifs of the story is that the Wendigo has strange, deformed or unnatural feet. The footprints are wrong and when the guide is under the sway of the Wendigo, his feet are unnatural as well. Indeed, the feet are never truly seen but only briefly glimpsed as dark and oddly massed.

Written in 1910, the Wendigo captures many cosmic horror elements. The northern woods become a liminal space. (I wrote that sentence just so I could use the word liminal.) The characters enter another world, one they don’t understand. And one is horribly transformed by the experience.

More importantly, the Wendigo is never truly defined or even seen. There is no explanation for it or its nature. It is outside the context of the hunters’ experience. Blackwood wrote eldritch cosmic horror before that was cool.

To be fair, he had already done that in his earlier story The Willows.

Many earlier authors influenced Lovecraft and the Mythos. Usually, though, there is some changes along the way. (Ambrose Beirce’s Hastur doesn’t resemble the Hastur we know and dread today) Blackwood, on the other hand, gave Derleth Ithaqua in a package with a bow.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Reviewing Psycopath

I was recently sent a review copy of Psychopath, a card game about going camping with serial killers. (Well, okay, it’s about one player being a serial killer who is going after a group of campers, Friday the 13th style. Although I think there’s some definite potential in that first idea)

And, as I mentioned in my actual review, it was a tough game to review folks I would normally have been able to use for play testers just weren’t into the theme or the artwork. 

To be honest, Psychopath is no longer what my cup of tea would be either. Between being a dad and a teacher, my tastes have gone a lot more family friendly.  But here’s the thing, there was a point in my life when a game like Psychopath would have been right up my alley.

I was taken back to my first GenCon where I was first introduced to Twilight Studios Zombies! Back then, a hundred little plastic zombies was pretty amazing. The me of back then would have been blown away by Psychopath.

In all honesty, that Ms would have ended up enjoying Psychopath far more than Zombies! While Psychopath lacks a hundred little plastic zombies, it has much more balanced gameplay. After a few plays, it became obvious that Zombies! is not only very random, it can turn into a slog that drags.

One plus about Psychopath that I didn’t mention in my review is that it pushes steadily towards the end game. Remembering Zombies! makes me remember how valuable that is. Games, particularly cinematic games, need a tempo.

I want to end by noting that the art in Psychopath is not for everyone, it isn’t actually offensive. It definitely brought back memories of how the horror films of thirty years back lacked the polish that we now take for granted.

Who else remembers The Last Slumber Party? ‘Friends’ insisted I watch it in college. (Okay, I love those guys) It combined abysmal acting and blatant special effect failures with a script that crossed the line from terrible to inexplicable. Bill F. Blair called it the worst film ever made and he was the producer. The Last Slumber Party wishes it could be Psychopath.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Why I need minimalist R&Ws

While I have a binder of Solitaire Roll and Writes where I have a couple dozen different games  (and I should go through it and either update or start a new binder) but I also have a half-side clipboard of  few Roll and Write games. Quick games with minimal setup requirements so I can play them in under five minutes.

I love living in a world where a clipboard like that can exist.

Anyway, all the games only use one to two dice and no rerolls. That way, I can use a dice roller on my phone or even my watch. 

Currently, I have 13 Sheep, Wurfel Bingo, Criss Criss and Blankout. And I honestly would say that 13 Sheep, Wurfel Bubgo and Criss Cross are top games in their niche. (Blankout is just for nervous fidgeting. And, yes, it gets used)

And Dice Spray, a game from the 12th Roll and Write Contest looks like a game I can add to the clipboard.

It’s a grid that you fill in. When you play solitaire, roll two dice. One serves as the shape and the other is the row or column. Your score is based on how many squares you fill in ten rounds.

The clever bits: the shape is determined by the pip formation with the three and five letting you make diagonal shape. You do get three rerolls but that’s manageable. And, what actually pushes the game over into worth playing, each pip is on a different square (there are multiples board layouts) Those squares much be covered with their matching pip shape.

While I look at every game in every Roll and Write Contest, what I really look for are either innovative games that push the boundaries of what you can do with Roll ans Write and quick and easy games that I can find the time to play. Dice Spray is firmly in the later category.

(I still hold that Fast Train to Mayajima from the fourth contest is a gem of that kind of game that deserves more noticed)

Dice Spray doesn’t do anything original. It has a couple touches that allow for actual choices. (The multi-player rules have dice drafting which honestly make for a better game than the solitaire version) But Dice Spray looks like it does its thing consistently and in a small space and time.

Yes, Dice Spray has earned more play by being as minimalist as possible. It’s not it’s only virtue but it is the deciding virtue.

Sometimes, you look for games that will let you do new things. And sometimes you look for games that will work in small spaces when you have no time.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Myths about the Mythos

 I recently watched a video by Seth Skorkowsky where he discussed Call of Cthulhu. In it, he mentioned three internet rumors that initially kept him away from Call of Cthulhu:

  1. There is no combat in CoC
  2. Every CoC session must end with everyone dead or insane
  3. CoC must be Lovecraftian

Now, I got into Call of Cthulhu before the internet was a thing. I’m not sure Neuromancer had even been written. So my reactions were:

  1.  Wha?!
  2. Well, I see where you’re coming from…
  3. What does that even mean?

Okay. Let’s get a little more detailed:

There’s no combat in CoC? Have they looked at the rules? There are combat rules in the core rules! Yes, Mythos creatures and other monsters have _distinct_ advantages over squishy investigators but why would they get hit points of you could take those hit points away with guns, knives and explosives

Yes, there is a Mythos game (Cthulhu Dark) that explicitly doesn’t have combat rules but I literally have no idea how anyone with any exposure to CoC could have that idea about CoC.

Everyone is dead and/or insane at the end of every session. Yeah, that’s an older joke the head of Vecna. And if you are playing a one-shot, I think that’s worth going for. 

But campaign play is baked into the game. Heck, Chaosium has been selling campaigns pretty much from the start. And campaign play works for every flavor of CoC. If you are are playing a purist game of cosmic horror and despair, you want to take time to grind down your characters’ souls.

Call of Cthulhu has to be Lovecraftian. I’m not quite sure what this means? If you mean everything has to be centered around the Mythos, that doesn’t even work for Lovecraft’s own writing! That sentence is simultaneously vague and limiting (and possibly condescending) all at the same time.

I have run and played a few different Call of Cthulhu campaigns and it’s safe to say that none of them followed any of those memes.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Where I’m mean to Henry Kuttner

I have been going through a phase of reading a bunch of Henry Kuttner’s short stories after I read his Hogben stories. And, in the process, I learned he was a part of the Lovecraft Circle. That’s the bunch of folks who not only wrote Mythos stories but corresponded with Lovecraft himself.

And the circle included some pretty big names. Robert E Howard. Clark Ashton Smith. Robert Bloch. August Derleth (who is admittedly more famous for keeping Lovecraft in print than anything he wrote) And there are others (Like Frank Bellknap Long, who seems to only be remembered for writing The Hounds of Tindalos. Which is worth remembering) Lovecraft was a letter writing fiend.

But I wasn’t familiar with Kuttner being part of the circle and I’ve been reading Mythos stuff for most of my life. And it’s not like I’d never heard of Kuttner. I first read his Gallagher stories in high school.

So I went and read some of the stories that were part of Kuttner’s Mythos work. And, for the most part, it fell short of having a Mythos feel. I’m not asking for cosmic horror and despair but I do want some level of greater scope and the inexplicable.

The best of what I read was the Graveyard Rats, which has nothing remotely Mythos related. It probably just gets lumped in because it’s a really strong, cracking good story. Well, that got me to read it so I’m not complaining.

The Spawn of Dagon was one that particularly struck me because it used the deep ones as essentially a competing race with humanity, not something outside of nature and rational thought. It was pulpy sword and sorcery with a Myrhos post it on it.

Not that there is anything wrong with pulpy sword and sorcery. And it can be combined very well with Mythos. Robert E. Howard’s Worms of the Earth is a magnificent example of blending those two genres.

Kuttner could write. Just not Mythos.

There are many authors who took the seeds that Lovecraft planted (in a graveyard on a moonless night, possibly using a human femur for the shovel… I let the metaphor get away from me, didn’t I?) and wrote memorable works. For me at least, Kuttner didn’t pull it off.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Brian Lumley’s fun with the Cthulhu Mythos

A long time back, possibly when life was still crawling out of the ocean and the Elder Things still thought Shogoths were a good alternative to bulldozers, I first saw the entry in the Call of Cthulhu RPG entry for Cthonians and Shudde M’ell. Now, I finally have read The Burrowers Beneath by Brian Lumley.

I’m honestly not sure Lumley is obscure or not as far as Mythos writers are concerned. I couldn’t find any of his books until digital publishing brought them back. But I have seen his short stories in different anthologies. He was writing before the Mythos went mainstream so he kept the fire going.

Lumley is allegedly controversial because he fully embraced the Lovecraft Lite style. That is basically defined as ‘humans can win’. So actual Lovecraft works like The Dunwich Horror count. I also think of it as the normalization of the Mythos. Not necessarily ‘the ghouls are stealing the wifi’ normal but the Mythos being a regular part of the world, not something that drives you insane.

Okay, spoiler time:








Titus Crow, paranormal Sherlock Holmes, and his Watson Henri de Marigny figure out the existence of the burrow horrors the Cthonians and their blasphemous god Shudde M’ell. Their attempts to thwart the Cthonians put them extreme danger until they meet the Wilmarth Foundation. That’s an organization devoted to the extermination of Myrhos stuff. Our heroes help them make some major victories but the book ends on a cliffhanger.

But since there are five or six more books, I am sure Crow and de Marigny are okay.

Next, some thoughts about the work.

On the one hand, I have to give Lumley full props on creating a whole new Mythos element with Shudde M’ell and the Cthonians. On the other hand, with a detailed life cycle, the Cthonians stop being a cosmic horror and just an alien life form that is comprehensible. Water being a huge weakness also makes them one of the vulnerable Mythos creatures, giving humanity a fighting chance.

Speaking of which, the Wilmarth Foundation, with its global network, psychics, and the ability to create unlimited elder signs, are what Delta Green wishes it could be. That said, Crow and and Marigny’s induction into the foundation really  reminds me of my college group’s transition from a traditional Call of Cthulhu game to a Delta Green One. Down to the GM being the only one who knew it was happening.

I also liked how the Wilmarth Foundatiions aren’t small bands of pulp adventurers on commando missions. No, they are massive works of civil engineering, using drilling rigs to drop elder signs and bombs deep in the earth. Killing Mythos is a major endeavor.

I also have to note that, as Lovecraft Lite as the book may be, there are some horrific elements. The physical prowess of the Cthonians is not as dangerous or insidious as their psychic powers.

And the fate of the explorer Amery Wendy-Smith, his brain placed in what sounds like a Shogoth to be tortured for decades, makes the Migo’s brain canisters seem quaint.

(I also have to note that the early part of the book is full of references to not just Lovecraft works but also works by other Mythos authors like Derleth and Campbell. Back when those weren’t as widely punished as they would be just ten years after Burrowers Beneath was published) 

I had fun. I’ll hunt down more Lumley.


Monday, October 17, 2022

Handy Brawl is thinky!

During the early stages of the 2022 In Hand contest, I printed out and tried what turned out to be one of the early versions of Handy Brawl. Now I’m trying the final contest version (the one that one best game) and there is quite the difference. It’s almost a different game.

The idea is that HB is a nine-card deck where a hero fights a monster. The first version I tried had five heroes fighting four different monsters. It was kind of kludgy, not helped by my black and white printing sometimes making me have to check if a couple characters were heroes or monsters. (The groot-ent and the cyborg with a gun, in case you’re curious)
The final version has one hero broken down into five cards and one monster broken down into four cards. It’s a lot cleaner and clearer with the individual characters having much clearer synergy.

Even better, there are three different heroes and three different monsters. That allows for a lot more choices and mechanical options. We go from one deck configuration to nine.

Make a deck of nine cards out of one hero and one monster. Shuffle it up but you can look at every card at any time. The top card either gives you options (hero cards) or required programmed actions (monster cards) The actions all break down to either moving cards around or changing their status (which usually means damaging them) You want to get the all monster cards dead before they get all the hero cards dead.

Handy Brawl is a remarkably thinky game for nine-cards. After the initial shuffle, there are no random or hidden elements. And the most simple card sets (the paladin and the ogre) have nine  distinct symbols. Several of those symbols can have additional modifiers and the more complicated heroes and monsters add to the symbol total.

This complexity creates HB’s greatest strength and weakness.

Handy Brawl is fiddly, particularly for a game that’s just nine cards at a time. After several plays, I’m still not sure I’ve got all the rules and symbol interactions right.

Having said that, the theme is a HUGE help with that. Framing all those symbols as weapon blows, arrows, shields, traps, etc, makes them more intuitive. Having a context for all the symbols to interact with really helps.

And the puzzles each combination and shuffle create are fun. Handy Brawl requires some actual thinking to win. There’s a decent amount of content going in here. Handy Brawl’s complexity is greater than its depth but there is some depth.

Palm Island didn’t create the In Hand niche but it did really increase the interest in it. I don’t think the In Hand design contest would have happened without it. Handy Brawl does not fire Palm Island but I do like how it goes in a different direction, creates new options.

Friday, October 14, 2022

What social message do you get from Riot?

Really, the only reason I made and tried out Riot was because it was by the same guys who designed Grunts. Grunts is a solaitire game that uses Roll and Move mashed together with a 70s British WW II comic. (Go ahead and try it. Print out one sheet and add dice and pawns.)

Riot is a game about the 2011 London Riots, the riots that happened after the death of Mark Duggan. And you score points by looting. Man, there’s a lot to unpack between those two sentences.

The actual game consists of eighteen cards and four dice. Six of the cards are locations and the rest are events. You pick out one location and then you shuffle the rest.

Each turn, you roll those dice. Every location has a list of die results. Cops will lock dice on the card. Clash will unlock a die on that card. Stand-off does nothing. Loot let’s you draw a card as loot. Regroup let’s you unlock any card.

And then there’s text. 

The 2011 London Riots were one of the first major riots where social media played a major role. It was used to help mobilize and organize rioters. And then it was used as evidence afterwards.

The text action lets you draw cards from the deck. That’s how events happen and locations get added. And, in the next turn, you Can live to any location on the tableau.

The game ends after six rounds, all dice are locked or you run out of cards. The rules don’t actually include winning or losing conditions. Interesting design choice.

Commenting on choices, Riot doesn’t have too many. Choose a location and the dice do the rest of the work. Since every location is different and can be modified by events, that choice isn’t meaningless but the weight of the game falls on what the dice say.

But I think the point of Riot isn’t it winning or losing or exerting your own agency. Riot is making some kind of commentary about an event.

The fact that the goal of the game isn’t political but looting as much as you can makes me make certain assumptions about the agenda of the designers. But I don’t know if those are fair assumptions. Using the Death of the Author theory, you can easily choose your own interpretation of what Riot means.

For all I know, the game may just be a way of expressing how the 2011 London Riots used social media and cell phones in a whole new way.

Riot isn’t a good game. You roll dice and they make all the decisions. But it did make me think.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Sandy Peterson and the reading list of doom

It’s October! One of the twelve best months to talk about the Cthulhu Mythos!

During a recent conversation about how the Cthulhu Mythos has become mainstream, I commented on how much Call of the Cthulhu (the RPG, not the short story or the telephone joke) and Sandy Peterson had to do with that. One of the other folks in that conversation proceeded to send me a link to Sandy Peterson talking about just that.

I am just barely old enough to appreciate how obscure Lovecraft and his influence was before Sandy Peterson began to share his love of Lovecraft and the Mythos. I work with kids who have always had plush Cthulhu’s in the world but there was a time when Lovecraft was basically a footnote in fantastic literature. Yes, August Derleth kept his name and work alive but Arkham House was a niche publisher at best.

These days, scholars write about Lovecraft. There’s a whole genre of cosmic honor named after him that includes literature, movies, video games and music. He is held up as second only to Edgar Allen Poe. But there was like half a century when obscure and thought  of as a hack if he was thought of at all.

And, while Call of the Cthulhu and Sandy Peterson didn’t single-handedly change that, they were one of the first dominos to fall.

According to Sandy Peterson, he had been a big fan of Lovecradt way before it was cool. And Chaosium picked him to design the game because he wouldn’t view it as a joke and he would be able to make a serious game.

Looking back, I realized that Sandy Peterson did one thing that was crucial to introducing audiences to the wider world of the Mythos. (Plenty of authors were influenced by Lovecraft, even when readers weren’t) He didn’t just include a list of source materials like Gygwx did with Appendix N.

No, for every entry in the bestiary, he included a quotation from a work that introduced or used that particular horror. And he cited the name and author of that work. Peterson integrated the reading list into the rules. And he didn’t just use Lovecraft’s own works. He also quoted August Derleth, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, and that’s not the end of the list. Sandy Peterson gave me a reading list that I’m still not done with, literally decades after I first read  book.

And I’m going to argue that that is why Call of Cthulhu didn’t just have an impact on RPGs but on literature in general. It didn’t just introduce us to Cthulhu or H. P. Lovecraft or the idea of Cosmic Horror burning away sanity like cobwebs under a flame thrower. It showed us a broader picture of the literature of Cosmic Horror. 

Sandy Peterson didn’t single handedly make it possible for me to buy Cthulhu t-shirts. (The fact that Lovevaft is now public domain has a lot to with that too) But he had a lot to do with making the Mythos part of mainstream culture.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Our son won’t let me escape Apples to Apples

After our son played Apples to Apples, the emoji version, he has been wanting to revisit the game. Now, I’d gotten rid of my copy of Apples to Apples ages ago. So we went to the nearest thrift shop because you can always find Apples to Apples at them.

While they didn’t have the emoji version our child craved, they did have the party box and the travel edition. Since I’m pretty sure the travel edition has unique content, getting both at thrift shop prices wasn’t a tough choice. (And a whole bunch of unopened Fimo clay so good trip)

Man, I cannot escape Apples to Apples. I own Dixit, for crying out loud, but not even that will save me from Apples to Apples.

And, while Apples to Apples bores me at this point, I can see why it still works.

When I was a wee little gamer, Trivial Pursuit became all the party game rage. It combined the worst aspects of roll and move with questions about minutiae. There can be good uses of both those elements (pub trivia, Backgammon, That’s Life) but Trivial Pursuit managed to be potentially long and frustrating.

Apples to Apples can end whenever the group feels like it and, quite frankly, strips away the skill requirement that almost all party games (or games at all) have. You don’t need to draw or to sing or to pantomime or have a large vocabulary or know the principle export of Zanzibar in the 1920s.  (Was it cloves?)

Which, on the face of it, sounds horrible. I mean, some kind of mental stimulation is the point of games. RCL is horrible because you just do whatever the dice tell you to do. Apples to Apples, though, is actually nothing but social interaction with a loose structure. 

Which can be horrible for some people.

But Apples to Apples has a very low entry bar. It can let a wide variety of people interact with each other. It focuses on the party part of party game, not the game  part.

And that incredible level of accessibility is why I can’t escape Apples to Apples. My child wants to play it. Random friends of his grandparents want to play it. It is the intersection of all kinds of people.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Seeing how Six Sided Stour has aged

Since I have been reading the Comic Book History of Beer (a fun but clearly biased read), I decided to revisit Six Sided Stout, a solitaire Roll and Write about home brewing.

Six Sided Stout got an honorable mention in the 2017 GenCan’t design contest. That contest jump started my interest in Roll and Write games and made me realize that Roll and Write games could go a lot farther than Yahtzee. And it’s been a fun journey that shows no sign of ending.

But, wow, it’s a surprise to realize that that was five years ago. I didn’t think it had been that long.  I’ve tried out a lot of R&Ws in that time.

Anyway. Six Sided Stout. It’s been five years since I last played it. It’s both simpler and more interesting than I remembered it lol

In the game, you take on the role of a home brewer who has ten days to new a stout for a contest. Each day, you either go to the market to get ingredients or roast malt that you gotten on an previous turn.

The actual use of dice comes in getting resources. You roll two dice to see how much you get from the marker. Rarer ingredients involve dividing the number. (Yeast, the rarest ingredient, has you divide by three so snake eyes  is a bad roll) You get four dice manipulations to add a third die and take the best two. (One for each ingredient and one wild) 

The core of the game is adding ingredients to a grid. It’s a nifty grid, tilted 90 degrees so it forms a diamond. There a big water drop in the middle so there is a jagged inner perimeter.

Coming back to Six Sided Stout after exploring a lot of different R&W ideas, I was surprised at how simple and slight it is. In fact, I suspect that the most reliable way to get a high score is get as much of the darkest roast of malt on the board and add the minimum amount of yeast and hops. In other words, I think you can brute strength your way over the puzzle aspect.

The best part of Six Sided Stout is easily the theme. While just mixing water, malted barley, yeast and hops together is a massive over simplification of beer making, it works for a five minute R&W. I wouldn’t have remembered the game, let alone gone and played it a few more times, if it wasn’t for the theme.

Six Sided Stout is an okay game. The fact that’s it’s free, uses little ink and has a short playing time helps its case but there are a lot of games that fit that bill. The beer brewing theme is what makes it interesting and a game I might play once a year or so.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Poorly organized, mildly incoherent thoughts about the Sandman TV series

Having finished the Sandman tv series, this is my opinion as a longtime fan of the comic book: it’s okay if this is your only exposure to Sandman.

(Mind you, the 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz proved to me that the movie can be better than the book. And after Robert Downy Jr said ‘I am Iron Man’ in 2008, all bets were off. If you refuse to read the original Tolkien books, though, you are dead to me)

That said, I can’t help but approach it as a comic book fan and compare the two.






Neil Gaiman has been very active in the creation of the television show. And, at least for the first season, I feel like I was watching him take this as a chance to do a do-over.

For many reasons, I feel that the first storyline in the  comic books was the weakest. Gaiman and his collaborators were finding both their voice and the direction of the comic book. One obvious  change was pulling out all the DC characters. I’m sure that was for legal reasons but it also worked for artistic reasons.

One of the things that struck me about the translation of the first two storylines of the comic book was what I think of as the Margaret Hamilton effect. The 1939 movie made the Wicked Witch of the West the through line of the story, instead of a character who shows up for two chapters. The Corinthian serves as that through line, bridging the two stories.

I also enjoyed many of the changes they made to characters. Morpheus was more vulnerable, which was good because he is close to omnipotent most of the time in the comics. This Morpheus is easier to sympathize with. 

And I just erased three paragraphs about character developments. There’s plenty of room for argument but I am glad that Gaiman and crew took chances and made adjustments for the medium and thirty years of cultural shifts.

Speaking of adjusting for medium, I was surprised by how much 24 Hours was toned down but I think that was a very smart choice. Not because I think viewers would be shocked and offended but because I think the extreme of the original work would have broken the suspension of disbelief.

Wow. This has been more random bullet point than I expected. Summing it up: the creative team not only did a good job adapting the work, they made a product that can stand on its own.

Monday, October 3, 2022

My September Gaming

 While September wasn’t a particularly game heavy month (and I honestly don’t know when next I’ll have one), I felt like I used my gaming time wisely.

Months after I downloaded the files, I finally made a copy and played the demo version of Death Valley. I found there was a lot more game to it than I thought. I thought it would just be a push your luck game but the interactions of the card powers is where all thre decision making takes place. I would have tried it out sooner if I knew how good it is :D Making a proper copy is now a goal.

I also tried out the final contest version of Handy Brawl. It’s an in-hand game where you fight a monster with a deck of nine cards.

I’d tried an earlier prototype, which I found fiddly and confusing. This version was a serious improvement. It was tighter with different heroes and monsters so you can build different nine card decks. This takes the game from a novelty to a game I keep playing. 

I revisited Zombie in my Pocket for the first time in something like ten years. And it still delivers! Don’t get me wrong, it’s very light and has its flaws. But it’s consistently fun.

I have been trying to learn at least end new Roll and Write every month. This month was more of a struggle, in part due to time but also because I just wasn’t in a Roll and Write mood. I ended up trying out Paper Pinball: Fight Back the Winter.

I thought of this as cheating since I’ve played several games in the series. But, looking at the rules more carefully, I realized that the scoring had been changed in the second season. Different targets that could be worth 2 to 12 points in the first season were now 1 to 4 points. That made the scoring tighter and gave me a better idea how wel I played lol

Other mechanics had been adding making the games tighter and more ‘pinball’ like. In other words, I learned something that I had glossed over before and had a better experience. 

(I haven’t played WhizKids Super-Skill Pinball system yet. I’ve made the Carniball demo and I have high hopes for it.)

So, happy with what I’ve learned in the gaming world last month.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

My September Print and Play

September wasn’t a super busy month for Print and Play crafting but I feel I made up for quantity with quality.

In September, I made:

Death Valley (demo version)
Handy Brawl (final contest version)
Zombie in my Pocket (original art)

I’ve been able to get in plays of all three games, which is always good. Crafting is its own reward but the point of a game is to be played.

Death Valley was my designated ‘big’ project but Handy Brawl was actually bigger. That said, that particular goal has become making a game that has been published. Mind you, I won’t be surprised at all if Handy Brawl gets monetized.

(At some point this year, although maybe not in October, I want to make a copy of the full Death Valley with the expansion.)

Honestly, months like this, where I make games that I turn out to enjoy playing over and over are why I keep on printing and playing.