Mage 20th Anniversary’s PDF Materializes

Given the lack of substantive news on the development of Mage‘s 20th anniversary edition — “It’s in yet another round in editing!” was the refrain that I picked out from most of the backer updates — and that I don’t follow news from Onyx Path, I will cop to being downright astonished yesterday afternoon when the email came through with a link to the PDF version of the core book. The Mage anniversary project was something I backed almost out of thoughtless reflex. I don’t know that I ever expected it to truly be done, and certainly not within the time frame they estimated.

And while the project certainly isn’t done, the PDF release is a significant, publicly visible milestone to reach. As in, “Oh yeah, this thing is going to be real! Some day, there will be a new, big, fat purple book on my shelf.”

I only skimmed a few pages last night, but wow. Talk about diving right back into the thick of 1990s White Wolf role-playing material. All that defiant, first-person writing in italicized capital letters, occasionally with lots of exclamation points, really stirs up memories. (And gets the eyes rolling, but Mage as written is what it is, until I make it suit my preferences.)

Decked!: Kirby’s Explorations vs. Rebirth of the Cult

In Black Moon Games‘ first ever Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game tournament, Miskatonic University’s expeditions, led by Jeremiah Kirby, scour the globe for lost knowledge to turn the tide against waves of cultists rising from the grave in service to the Ancient Ones.

Rebirth of the Cult was designed by Obtuse and is posted to Kirby’s Explorations was designed by Rod, who makes his Decked! debut this week. So it’s an episode of firsts: Rod’s debut, our first location recording and Black Moon Games’ first constructed Call of Cthulhu tournament. Additionally, Black Moon celebrated their one year anniversary on May 3rd, 2015, so here’s to many more years of fun!

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Call of Cthulhu LCG: The Mark of Madness Announced

The Mark of Madness box cover: the King in Yellow looms before a French city skyline.Even before the next Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game expansion has hit stores, Fantasy Flight announces the next title: The Mark of Madness, giving Hastur’s faction the kind of focused attention that everyone else has enjoyed to date. This time out, the Cultist, Artist and Lunatic subtypes are getting the love, with several featured in the first preview. Cultists were a natural, and everyone hoped Lunatics would get the boost they needed, as a functional Lunatic deck is something I think most Cthulhu players dabble with at least once.

Artist is a surprise to me. It’s a tribe with eleven characters to date, and no cards specifically keying off the subtype. But considering Hastur’s portfolio, Artist makes a lot of sense as an unregarded subtype to build up. The Mark of Madness brings us new Artists and cards that boost the tribe, the same way The Sleeper Below boosted Cultists and Denizens of the Underworld did Criminals. Tru’nembra can be discounted by driving Artists insane, while Patron of the Arts grants them Toughness and skill.

Additionally, there are new incentives to win the terror struggle. Drawing the Sign accumulates success tokens when the opponent loses terror, and can be sacrificed with eight tokens to win a story flat out. The Hastur, He Who Is Not To Be Named, allows the controller to place a success token on a story every time they win terror there. And this Hastur brings an extra terror struggle to the party, to boot!

Intriguingly, the off-factions’ characters are hinted to be themed around entering play insane, and having an effect when they are restored. I hope further previews expand on this theme.

Cardboard! with Rich Sommer

Cardboard! with Rich Sommer art: a cartoon of Rich smiles out from the lid of a board game box.A new board game podcast premiered recently, called Cardboard! with Rich Sommer. Probably best known for playing Harry Crane on Mad Men, Rich is also a huge board game nerd. I’d heard this fact mentioned on various podcasts over the last couple years, but there wasn’t anything to follow up on. Now with Mad Men concluding, Rich has launched a podcast of his own, just to talk about board games.

The tone of Cardboard! is generally about introducing board games to newcomers. The show’s guests seem to be mostly friends who have played a game or two, or casual players, usually with a hint of celebrity around them. Rich usually tries to frame the discussion in terms of what newcomers to the hobby might want to try, and how to go about doing so. Given Cardboard!‘s position in the podosphere as a show on the pop culture-centric WolfPop network, that’s a sensible position.

Episode five, “Getting Our Hands Dirty,” bucks that trend with a full-on game nerd, Kevin Sussman, and game designer Mike Selinker. I especially dug this episode because Rich and Mike talk about the genesis of Betrayal at House on the Hill, a personal favorite of mine — and Rich’s, it turns out.

During that episode, the interesting point comes up a game that tries to inject theme purely through flavor text on cards and rule books fails. The mechanics of the game have to be part of creating the theme. The example comes up of Martin Wallace games: the rules of a rail tycoon game encourage ruthless exploitation, and so the players find themselves feeling like exploitative rail tycoons.

(By that token, I found myself wondering whether games like Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror do a good job of implementing their theme. Given they usually feel like a struggle against impossible odds, I’ll say yes for now.)

Cardboard! is a fun, snappy listen. The segments are varied, well-timed, and Rich Sommer is an energetic, engaging host who keep one eye on “I love board games and want to talk about them all the time!” and the other on “this show needs to be entertaining for the non-hardcore nerds, too.”

Call of Cthulhu LCG: Revealing Locations

The Thousand Young box cover.There’s a new preview up for The Thousand Young, the next expansion for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. In addition to a new set of Shub-Niggurath characters to check out — Baron Samedi seems especially cool, and he’s an Avatar, for added fun with the new Nyarlathotep — we’ve got a peek at the running theme of the off-faction cards.

So far, in the faction boxes, there’s been a common mechanical element among those factions who aren’t the stars of the expansion. Seekers of Knowledge gave everyone a Prophecy. Denizens of the Underworld gave everyone a Tactic. For the Greater Good passed out story attachments.

Now, we seem to be getting a set of reveal-for-bonus Locations. Hastur’s Tremé, for example, lets you reveal the top card of your deck. If it’s a Lunatic character, choose a character to go insane, ignoring terror icons or Willpower. That’s pretty awesome, particularly because it can work on Ancient Ones, which is a pretty common exception in Call of Cthulhu.

The other Location on preview, the Order of the Silver Twilight’s Garden District, has a similar effect. If the top card of your deck is a Lodge character, you can return a number of Lodge characters to your hand equal to the cost of the revealed Lodge character in order to put that character into play. Useful for doubling up on “enters play” effects, like everyone’s favorite bouncer, Jeff, and leveraging cheaper characters to bring out a stronger one.

Decked!: Arcane in the Membrane vs. Rituals of the Silver Sothoth

In this Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game game, schisms with the followers of Yog-Sothoth lead to a race for lost arcane knowledge, supported by the Silver Twilight Lodge and Miskatonic University.

Rituals of the Silver Sothoth was designed by NuFenix and is posted to Arcane in the Membrane was designed by Ray, as all his decks are, and can be found within the confines of his head.

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Call of Cthulhu LCG: The Dark Mother’s Multitudinous Monstrosities

The Thousand Young box cover.The Thousand Young, Shub-Niggurath’s deluxe expansion for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game is on the horizon — surprisingly and delightfully soon after the Agency’s For the Greater Good — and thus Fantasy Flight has begun their series of preview articles. In addition to introducing the new keyword Resilient and reviving a subtype tribe from the CCG days, Avatar of Nyarlathotep, The Thousand Young is spreading the love to all of Shub-Niggurath’s existing tribes: Ghouls, Chthonians, Monsters and, yes, my personal favorite, the Mi-Go.

The Mi-Go are a self-reinforcing subtype. Many of them grant other Mi-Go icons, or gain icons based on the number of their kind in play. Now they get Xlizxcte-Oonth, the first unique Mi-Go. Not only is he beefier than your typical Mi-Go before buffing, but he aids in playing out still more for cheap, and from the discard pile. In my first Mi-Go deck, I had the Corrupted Midwife on hand for that purpose, but I don’t know if I ever got to use her, as it was usually more advantageous to send her to a story. Not having to exhaust to get the same effect for Mi-Go sounds like it’s going to be pretty cool.

Decked!: Blood, Bath & Beyond vs. Ancient Rites

Our run of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game continues as the Agency’s ranks, infested with the spawn of Shub-Niggurath, struggle to thwart the aeons-long machinations of the cult of dread Cthulhu.

Ancient Rites started with a sample deck list released in the run up to The Sleeper Below, and then when I borrowed a number of cultists for Rebirth of the Cult, I turned to the wider card pool to bring in new worshipers and Ancient Ones, plus the titular conspiracy Ancient Rites.

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Decked!: Skill-less vs. Clover Club Special

In this Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game game, Ray brings Skill-less from episodes 5 and 6 back to bear on what turns out to be the reverse sort of mirror match-up, as Tyler plays a mono Syndicate deck, Clover Club Special.

Clover Club Special is a slight variant on David Boeren’s Clover Club Lunch Special, a sample deck list included in the Denizens of the Underworld expansion. It varies mostly in that some of the one-of cards from the core set were removed to allow other one-ofs to become two-ofs.

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Cripple Mr. Onion

In tribute to the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels and many other works, as well as one of the brightest lights in dark places I’ve have encountered so far, here are the rules to play Cripple Mr. Onion.

You will need an eight-suited deck of cards.