When we lived across the country a couple months ago, I didn’t know how it would affect my gaming habits. Would I still keep on playing games and learning new games?
Friday, September 22, 2023
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
As someone who enjoys both railway games and Roll and Writes, I’ve had Railroad Ink on my radar for a while. I finally bought the app so o could try it out.
Friday, September 15, 2023
While I first picked up the PDF version of Star Maps five or six years ago, I’ve only now decided to do some printing and try it out. At that time, I was a little confused by the rules but, after years after playing Roll and Writes, it now seems simple lol (I still had to look at rules forums to clarify a few things so the rules really do need some editing)Star Maps was part of a line of games from Spiel Press. The idea behind Spiel Press was to make campaign Roll and Write books. Since their third product never got published, I am guessing it didn’t quite work out. (However, since it came from the guy who’s behind Button Shy and PnP Arcade, I think the big picture is doing all right)
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
I went into Lockwood & Co by having heard of a tv series I never ended up watching and having forgotten reading the Bartimeaus Trilogy also by Jonathan Stroud. (To be fair, I read those books as they came out so it was about twenty years ago)
Monday, September 11, 2023
I’m surprised that I’d only first heard of Knaster a few weeks ago. It seems to be an intentional sequel to Wurfel Bingo/High Score/Knister. Finding Wurfel Bingo was a watershed moment for me as a gamer.
Like Wurfel Bingo, Knaster is a Roll and Write that follows the Take It Easy paradigm. Everyone has their own play sheet and uses the same die rolls. Which has become a pretty common design, to be fair.
Take a five-by-five grid. Roll two dice each turn. You can either write their sum in a blank square or, if you already have that number on your grid, you can circle it. The game ends when the grid is full. You get points for each circle and for having complete rows, columns and diagonals of circles.
And if that was all there was, Knaster would be boring, even tedious. However, if you complete a line with numbers and form a poker had like a straight or five of a kind, you get bonus circles you can use anywhere on the grid.
And the poker hands are what make Knaster work as a game. That mechanic gives players a little bit of control and makes number placement actually have some meaning. That mechanic is what actually creates choices.
I went into Knaster with very, very low expectations. I was expecting a Wurfel Bingo with more randomness and twice as many turns. Instead, I found a decent little game. That poker mechanic I keep harping on makes the play entertaining.
In fact, I like Knaster more than Wurfel Bingo. Which isn’t as big a component as it might sound. Wurfel Bingo was pretty cool when I first played it (Take It Easy in two dice!?) but it hasn’t aged well. Mostly because there’s so many games that have explored and expanded that design space in the last several years.
Which brings me to the real question: is Knaster actually any good?
This gives me an excuse to pull out an analogy. I’ve been wanting to use. It is a fast food hamburger of a game. You know what you’re getting, it delivers that, you enjoy it, but it’s not special. There are a lot of Roll and Writes out there. Knaster does its thing pretty well but there’s plenty of better games out there.
I am happy I’ve learned Knaster. It is going to go into rotation for me. And if you play it, it will be a pleasant little diversion. But, yeah, there’s better Roll and Writes out there, even if you just want a coffee break.
Friday, September 8, 2023
The title is pretty much the summary.
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Sometimes I’ll read something just based on the pitch. Particularly when it comes to manga.
Ya Boy Kongming isn’t the weirdest manga I’ve ever read. I have no idea what the strangest manga or anime I’ve read or seen. After I watched an army of rabbit-cats transform into a spaceship in Tenchi Muyo!, I decided that I wouldn’t worry about limits.
Okay. Here’s the pitch for Yo Boy Kongming: legendary Chinese statesman and tactician Zhuhai Liang (courtesy name Kongming) find himself in modern Japan after his death and becomes a music agent.
It isn’t that the idea is absurd, which of course it is. It’s that it sounds banal. Like Charlemagne coming to the present and working at a fast food chain or Benjamin Franklin becoming a real estate agent. (Which he might have actually been. He did a lot of stuff) After you giggle about the idea, is there any story, any tension or drama?
In the case of Ya Boy Kongming, there actually is. Shortly after arriving in modern Japan, Kongming is so moved by the duagonist Eiko’s singing that he basically adopts her and plans on making her a world famous singer who can usher in world peace.
Which he does by becoming Batman with a constant stream of insane schemes that always become together. If a music stand wearing ancient Chinese clothes had flown through the window, Bruce would have become Kongming.
I have to confess to feeling very provincial but I have probably learned more about Romance of the Three Kingdoms from Ya Boy Kongming!
So a lot of what makes the manga fun isn’t the absurd idea but the emphasis on how wonderfully awesome Kongming is. More than that, his cunning ng plans, also trying to benefit Eiko’s rivals. Having lived one life of war, Kongming wants to live a life of peace and that means elevating everyone.
I also understand that Ya Boy Kongming actually didn’t take off until it became an anime. Which makes sense because you can’t listen to music in a manga! I am just reading it but I am also making sure to actually listen to the sings. And, speaking as an old dinosaur, if this is what the kids are listening to these days, the kids are all right.
Ya Boy Kongming has a silly concept but but pulls it off for longer stories by being fun and inventive.
Monday, September 4, 2023
August was a busy month but I helped keep myself calm with Roll and Writes.
Friday, September 1, 2023
August, as predicted and as honestly is usually the case, was a busy month without much time for making PnP projects. Truth to tell, I did all my PnP crafting on August 1 to make sure I got some in and, indeed, that was all I did. Still, it was a good time.
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
One of my most important RPG experiences in the past ten years has been Microscope by Ben Robbins. Part of that is because almost all of my RPG gaming during that time has been long distance and Microscope was wonderful in a play-by-email format.
Monday, August 28, 2023
I once heard an NPR music critic say the golden age of music is whenever you were twelve.
Friday, August 25, 2023
It took me five months to finally watch Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3, which for me is actually watching a movie quite close to its release. (I am much more of a reader than a viewer) I managed to be relatively spoiler free so it definitely manages to surprise me at times.
- While I knew the movie would feature Rocket, I hadn’t expected it to be centered around him. But I’ve liked the character since the 80s so it’s cool. And, story wise, it works.
- Peter Quill’s arc wasn’t about him getting the girl but growing up. I like that he isn’t wish fulfillment but is used to address the issues of being a man-child.
- I hadn’t been a fan of the MCU Mantis. The comic version can go toe-to-toe with Thor and is always the adult in the room. In this movie, though, she clearly shows herself to be physically tough and very insightful so I was happier.
- Holy cow. The comic High Evolutionary is a borderline hero while this one was incredibly vile and reprehensible. Possibly the pettiest and nastiest villain of the MCU.
- Okay. We still haven’t gotten Moondragon in the MCU. I’ll wait.
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
I’m about eight years late to the party but I picked up and read Archie Comics’ Road to Riverdale. It was a sampler for their New Riverdale line, the first issues of five of the books. And it obviously was done to help promote the Riverdale TV show. (Which I have never watched but I understand critics love to savage it)
I had heard of the New Riverdale line, a reimagining of Archie and his world with more realistic artwork and more continuity-based storylines. And, while not inappropriate, aimed at an older audience.
And it wasn’t quite what I expected. As opposed to being Archie as a serious drama (which isn’t actually unknown), it was more of a denser, wackier look but with a heavy emphasis on character development. Honestly, it felt like a post-Buffy the Vampire Slayer Archie, self aware but room for feels.
I find Archie weird. Before I was old enough to not be embarrassed to read it, I thought of Archie as simplistic, repetitive and reactionary. And, frankly, a lot of that is true. Archie has been going since the 1940s and has been almost always aimed at a younger audience.
At the same time, Archie has been constantly reinventing itself. I don’t even know if Archie Comics itself knows how creators have worked on the franchise. And it’s been addressing social issues for decades.
What muddies the water is the fact that they are constantly reprinting stuff from all over their catalog. So you can find different messages, sometimes in the same magazine.
To be fair, you can point to any long running franchise. Batman has been many things. However, Bruce and his merry band of vigilantes have been allowed to change and adjust. The lack of continuity and constant reprints means Archie Comics keeps the values dissonance constantly churning. There is good stuff but they keep burying it.
Which might be part of the point of New Riverdale.
Heck, it got me to read the first volume of Archie. Which I did enjoy but found almost bipolar. We have moments like Archie’s bumbling destroying the entire Lodge mansion contrasted with Betty’s angry tears at Archie freaking out over her makeover.
From what I understand, the New Riverdale has ended. Perhaps that has to happen. When you actually create a story where the characters develop and change, endings make sense.
Monday, August 21, 2023
Rustling Leaves had been on my radar for a while, seeing as how it is a Roll and Write game available as an app. So, when most of our stuff was in boxes, picking it up was a natural move.
Friday, August 18, 2023
Honeycomb Cavern is the latest game I’ve tried by Alexander Shen.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
One game, or really a game system, that was never in danger of being purged from my collection is IceHouse/Treehouse/Looney Pyramids. Yes, back in my day, we bought pyramids in sets of fifteen in tubes that didn’t come with any rules!
Monday, August 14, 2023
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve found Battle Card Market Garden an interesting little work. The game really plays itself but it’s an interesting to show Operation Marker Garden on a post card.
Friday, August 11, 2023
In order to ease myself back into the mindset of both making PnP projects and learning PnP games, I made a few of the simplest entries in this year’s One Card Contest: Flyswatter, The Flea and the Circus, One Card Maze. None of them feel like I could get an entire blog out of them but I’ll throw them together as a pack.