About Tyler

In the wilds of Vermont.

Little Free (Game) Libraries

A little free library, shaped like a miniature house filled with books, mounted on a post.

By John Phelan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the Carnage math trade results, I am keeping the change ball rolling by weeding out my library of board games and role-playing books. In the past, I’ve tried sales and sale/swap game forums, and had mixed results. The legwork involved in listing and shipping rarely seems to merit the cash return, particularly now that the more salable titles have all found homes. So now, in the interest of Less Stuff, I’ve begun filtering out the games and books I don’t want anymore to Burlington’s little free libraries.

Due to locations, a little discretion goes into what is seeded where. Leaving Chez Geek by a children’s playground seems like it would be poor form. Fortunately, there are at least four little free libraries within my walking radius, so everything can be evenly distributed. And it’ll get me outside walking more, which can only be a plus.

Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game World Championship Match

There was a great deal of hubbub last week coming out of Roseville, Minnesota to do with the living card game scene. I’m still processing the news and seeing what other folks have to say about it. In the meantime, here’s the final match of the Call of Cthulhu world championship. Astonishingly, it does not include perennial contender Tom Capor. Instead, it’s the surprising match-up of a Miskatonic Explorer deck versus a triple threat alliance of Silver Twilight, Yog-Sothoth and Miskatonic.

Former Cthulhu developer Damon Stone is one of the commentators, too. That voice, man. That voice. Check out Fantasy Flight’s stream of the match-up below:

Microscope on Black Moon Games

My friend Justin got a shout-out from Ars Ludi yesterday. Justin’s been getting back into role-playing games of late, and has taken a particular shine to Microscope, a world-building game. At Carnage this past weekend, he ran a Microscope session geared for kids, which it turns out has been a running thing for him, now that I see this photo of a game in Black Moon Games‘ Lunar Lounge.

I haven’t had the chance to try Microscope, but I think I’m going to have to make time for it, next time I cross paths with Justin. Maybe at one of Green Mountain Gamers’ events, like Winter Weirdness or the Spring Meltdown.

A Fistful of Carnage Recap

” . . . and it has tomatoes.”
“Tomatoes. Are those the soy or the lent in soylent?”

The grim reaper rides a pale horse, wearing a tall cowboy hat and a rifle in each hand.Another Carnage has come and gone. I spent most of the weekend working in the Snowshed, where the role-playing and card games were based, but I did manage to play some games:

  • Stetsons Are Cool was Robin Lea‘s Doctor Who-based adventure, in which we Time Agents tracked down a highly dangerous zygma beam device in ancient American west. I may have gone a little goofier with team leader Kip Brannigan than was appropriate, but I think he and medic Hanso had a good back and forth repartee going.
  • Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game was a nice mid-slot game to play while working the information desk with Rod. He’s picked up the core set and Sleeper Below, so he played cultists and Cthulhu against the Syndicate’s tricks, and then Yog-Sothoth’s discard effects.
  • The Great Snowball Battle is a cute card game of little kids slinging snowballs at each other until everyone gets called inside for losing their hats, boots and gloves.
  • Ticket to Ride‘s Switzerland map is annoying.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse was played with another old hand and two newcomers who originally thought we would play Citadels because I mumble; one of them dug it and the other one I probably ought to have handed a deck other than Bunker’s.
  • Gygax Magazine Pub Quiz, Saturday night in the bar, was a hoot. Our chief heckler of the last two years became the fill-in host, so the tables turned in a way. Next year, though, I look forward to James and Mary slipping back into the hosting duties.

The Game with No Name math trade netted me some great stuff, too. I turned HERO books, Gamma World and Revolution! into Netrunner cards — hello, Grimoire playset! — and a classic copy of Wiz-War, which I’ve wanted to try more of. Plus, after the trade concluded, I got to help a lady rebuild part of her Cheapass Games collection, after a tragic loss to fire. So this year’s trade was a win on multiple levels.

Our second year at Killington was good. We had a better idea of what to expect and how to do things. There were unanticipated questions, of course, with the resort and our attendees, but nothing outside the usual stretch. In the end, we had a great convention, and folks had fun. Mission accomplished!

Yea, Slimy Things Did Crawl With Legs / Upon the Slimy Sea

The Illuminerdy has a nice post up called The Worm Latitudes, in which Nanouk synthesizes the Lambton Worm, European eels and the Sargasso Sea into a pleasing mix to add into your campaign, should it be running short on limbless squick. (Seriously, watch out for the lamprey photos. I hate those things.)

The Lambton Worm is a fine example of a Dragon or Wyrm or Sea Serpent that you can include in your game, and even features a built in tactic for slaying the beast at the climax.

And a death curse. Wow.

Who doesn’t love a death curse?

Click through for the full story of the Lambton Worm and how it might fit into your campaign. I’m currently trying to figure out to hook it into the Elder Worm mythos of the HERO universe. Two threads about immortal worms have to tie together eventually.


[*] Post title courtesy Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Fun fact: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner fits the theme tune of Gilligan’s Island pretty nicely.

Cartography of Theah

An alternative map of the alternate version of Europe from the role-playing game 7th Sea.
Check out Guardnacho’s alternative take on the geography of 7th Sea‘s Theah, particularly if, as the RPGnet poster put it, you like maps that reflect “basic geography concepts like water flowing downhill.” Thanks to Fiver for the link.

That same thread also suggested that Theah could couple fairly well with Northern Crown, which is an interesting idea.

Carnagecast 57: Gulveig

carnagecast-rss-image-300Ray flies solo in Carnagecast this week as Andrew Valkauskas, designer of the Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok talks about his new card game Gulveig, what Carnage-goers can look forward to at the convention next month and plans for Fate of the Norns as a tabletop game property in 2015.

Maybe I shouldn’t break the fourth wall on this, but I don’t think it’s going to surprise anyone to learn that I ran the board on this episode. I made an inadvertent tribute to one of my favorite comedy personalities, Paul F. Tompkins, by blurt laughing off-mic when I was supposedly absent from the recording. We struggled with Skype on this as Andrew gamely kept shuffling his desktop arrangement to eliminate the issue, but I hope you’ll stick through the rocky audio.

Nostalgia for Something I Didn’t Have

A fan of trading card game cards.Ever since the hubbub of a Magic collector pulling a Black Lotus from a sealed Alpha starter deck live on camera hit last week, I’ve found his YouTube channel, openboosters, curiously fascinating. I wasn’t a big Magic player and my era was the end of Revised to the deflated party balloon launch that was Homelands — and I never really grokked the strategy of the game and deckbuilding like most players did — but I knew the cards of the time pretty well thanks to InQuest printing their text at the back of every issue.

Watching this fellow crack open packs feels like a vicarious pleasure. I didn’t do much pack-cracking[1] — never bought a box, or part of one, only one and two boosters at a time — so getting to see it through his eyes, and having the benefit of his knowledge about which card is the rare, and which are fun cards to play, is gratifying. I remember knowing many of those card names and art, but didn’t get to experience them in play. Now I can have the best of seeing cards in “person” for the first time, and the flush of fond memories, even if they aren’t mine.

From time to time, I’ve wished there were a way to go back to the early days of Magic, when you had just the core set at the time, with its Power Nine and other ridiculousness, and just play that era of the game, without necessarily having to track down cards of absurd rarity and value. Picture a Chronicles-like throwback covering the entire core set.

For now, I’ll keep watching openboosters. He’s got to hit on a Kird Ape at some point, right?


[1] And hold no illusions about any joy to be gleaned from such activities, having once lost my mind and bought a dozen or more Illuminati: New World Order starter decks.

The Game With No Name Math Trade

Matt Golec of the Penny Press design team has hosted a no-ship math trade at Carnage for some years now, coming up with thematic names to make us grin as we figure out what games we don’t want to own anymore. This year, it’s the Game With No Name math trade.

A math trade is a method of swapping whereby people list what they don’t want, list what they would like to get in return from other swappers and a computer figures out the details. The “no ship” part means no one ships anything. Show up to Carnage, drop off what you’re swapping, pick up what you’re getting. Done!

This year, I staked claim to the entirety of the third page of the geek list. You will find a bevy of light, popcorn games like Chez Cthulhu and the Cheapass family. You will find thematic bundles of HERO and GURPS sourcebooks. You will find Werewolf: the Apocalypse and Spelljammer books because I’m acknowledging that I’m not going to get around to running games in most of these settings.

You will also find lots of good stuff for which to trade with other folks posting to the list. Check it out, and offer up what you’re not interested in playing anymore!

Carnagecast 56: Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League

carnagecast-rss-image-300This week on Carnagecast, we talked with Al Spader from Jetpack Comics about Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, Wizards of the Coast’s new Adventurers League organized play structure and what Dungeons & Dragons-related fun folks can expect at A Fistful of Carnage in Killington this November.

Probably my favorite part of this episode was sitting more fully in the producer/engineer’s seat, which is my wheelhouse by trade and inclination. Ray leading the interview gave me the opportunity to focus more on making sure everyone sounded good. Sometimes this makes me feel hyper-critical, as I want to re-take every statement covered up by incidental noise, but having the freedom to watch the audio levels and listen for quality without also tracking the conversation and moving it forward was a rare treat for me, and greatly enjoyed.