Call of Cthulhu LCG: The Misplaced Danger to All Mankind

Last night, playing Call of Cthulhu, I had what I thought was the most fun dumb luck play of the night in a mirror match of mono Cthulhu versus mono Cthulhu. I had four success tokens on a story. In play, I had Unaussprelichen Kulten. In hand, I had two Eldritch Nexii and a Sleeper Below Cthulhu. I needed to gin up some extra bodies on the table, but I’d already used Unaussprelichen Kulten to peek at the top of my deck and I knew there wasn’t a cultist there to play.

So I decided to try something wacky: play Eldritch Nexus to remove the non-cultist card of the deck. I put Eldritch Nexus down as the new domain — note: this was incorrect, as I found out later and elaborate below — and added the top card of the deck as a resource to the new domain. The next peek with the “Sussex Manuscript” revealed Aziz Chatuluka!

One domain pays for Aziz to hop into play, just long enough to accidentally summon up and be devoured by Cthulhu himself, whose mighty skill 10 wins the final success token on the story. So that was a pretty lucky, cool play, I thought.

Unfortunately, doing that was wrong. When you play Eldritch Nexus, the top card of the deck becomes the domain card, and then the next card becomes the resource. So Aziz ought to have been resourced, rather than been the new top card of the deck. What the next card of the deck might have been, we’ll never know, as the game ended after that, but I’m pretty sure it was not another Aziz.

Apologies to my fellow player. I’ll remember that for next time!

Decked!: Tennin Institute vs. Ken “Express” Tenma

Decked! returns with the follow-up Netrunner match between Roy and Alex. This time, the tables have flipped as Alex’s runner, Ken “Express” Tenma, takes on the Tennin Institute, headed up by Roy.

Click through the video to visit the official Decked! YouTube channel, where you can subscribe to get updates as new episodes post, and browse the archives as they grow. Decked! is produced with facilities provided by Vermont Community Access Media in Burlington, Vermont. You can also watch it on VCAM 15, or on VCAM’s web player.

I’m the Only Nerd in the Office Yankee Swap

Yesterday, my office held our annual Yankee swap. You, like Wikipedia, may instead know it as a white elephant exchange. This was my second annual swap with this group, and I had vengeance up my sleeve.

Last year, my contribution to the swap was the fancy Steve Jackson Games edition of Give Me the Brain. Now, I will admit, I was pretty sure going in this would not be received well by anyone in my office. I’m the only nerd on a team of designers, writers and other creative types. One person has ever copped to knowing who Tom Baker is and no one recognizes the Miskatonic pennant I keep on my cube wall.

The Yankee swap recipient was appropriately baffled, yet effusive in their excitement about playing games with their family. And yet, sometime in the summer months, while I was looking for thumbtacks or something in a supply cupboard of the office, what did I stumble across? Nothing else but the Pepto-Bismol pink box of Give Me the Brain, with a hapless Friedey’s employee gazing out in benevolent confusion.

Clearly, we had a booby prize on our hands. With luck, this thing could circle around the office for years and years as the Yankee swap gift no one wants, or was willing to say, “Hey, ditch that thing and throw in a growler of beer like an adult.” So, cackling with glee at taking revenge on such outright rejection of a terrific awful gift, I tucked the game away in my own little cupboard to wait for December.

Now, December 2014 rolls around. I start getting cold feet, worrying that recycling Give Me the Brain, even though it was so cruelly abandoned in a cupboard, is a poor contribution. So I make things twice as good by wrapping it up with the fancy edition of Chez Geek. At the very least, that puts something new in the mix of the Yankee swap.

The swap itself is pretty uneventful. There isn’t much stealing. The most contentious items are all chocolate or alcohol, and only one or two of those get swapped at all. My colleague who opens up Give Me the Brain and Chez Geek is completely bemused by this. She’s opened a stinker and no one’s going to grab it from her. As she opens it, at least a few people recognize that the bright pink box has come around again, and are reminded of the person who left it behind when leaving the office, so they’re guffawing over that.

The poor, puzzled owner of the board games wonders out loud if anyone who has kids would enjoy these. I’m not about to give any extra hints it was me who put them in the swap, but someone else seems to know enough to say they’re not kids’ games.

So the upshot is I got two more games off my shelves — more to go to little free libraries — and I feel a little bad about spiking the office Yankee swap with stinkers two years running. There just aren’t enough nerds — meaning there’s just me — in my department to make it seem like anything more than spoiling the fun of the Yankee swap with stuff no one’s going to want to steal.

Next year, I’ll choose something more square. Unless I go through with the garden gnome idea.

Carnagecast 58: A Recap Full of Carnage

carnagecast-rss-image-300After a nice post-convention rest, we are back with a new episode of Carnagecast, talking about how A Fistful of Carnage went. Ray and I spent most of our weekends in the Snowshed, so we have the inside skinny on role-playing games and card games. The new Dungeons & Dragons edition turned out to be the most demanded game in the role-playing hall, which says a lot for the name’s ability to outlast nerd rage.

It’s a nice little conversation, and I’m glad to be back in the swing of recording episodes. Listen in!

Sgt. Whizzard’s Lonely Runners Club Band

dboeren (Elder Things, The Dude Ranch, participant in countless card game discussion boards) linked to an article by Daniel Fackelman on Stimhack about building a local community around Netrunner. Daniel specifically addresses Netrunner and uses language specific to the game, but the basic principles hold for anyone looking to drum up and sustain interest in a game designed even in part for repeated plays and fine-tuning that you find in card games. I particularly appreciated this passage:

The entire game industry is built exclusively on disposable income. There are thousands of other games competing for the investment of each wide-eyed Explorer looking to a new world to claim as their own. Netrunner is a relatively inexpensive game to play, however, it still requires an investment of credits. Credits well-earned at demanding jobs with torturous hours and co-workers that make fun of these folks for liking Dungeons & Dragons or quoting Star Wars.

In the end, this is a hobby. It shouldn’t be work or unfun. So it’s a little weird to think of yourself acting as a salesman in pursuit of enjoying a hobby, but it can work. There are more games to play now than ever before. Convincing someone to try this particular game is going to be equal parts sharing your passion for it and helping them figure out what about it appeals to them, and is worth their attention and money.

Daniel goes on to describe a bit of how one might introduce the game to a casual passer-by. I need to bone up on that. I taught Netrunner last week for maybe the third or fourth time. I still do not have a patter or rhythm down to explaining how it plays, and why one thing is good and another bad. One of my big takeaways from being a Man in Black for Steve Jackson Games was the benefit to outlining a loose sort of script in teaching the basics of a game, and how one can pack information into a turn so the demo is more than parroting the rule book, step by step.

[HT to dboeren’s post to the Doomtown forum on Boardgamegeek.]

Sentinels of the Mac-verse

Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Video Game cover, with the core Sentinels arrayed in a shallow V.It’s all over now. Skimming a Greater Than Games news post, I discovered that not only is the electronic adaptation Sentinels of the Multiverse game coming to computers via Steam, but it will run on OS X. This is totally news to me, though maybe not the rest of the card-shuffling world. So I am basically not going out in the evening for a while over the holiday break — assuming the desktop implementation of the game releases soon, which “Holiday 2014” implies. I’m reminded of trying out Hearthstone and spending three nights running planted on the couch, playing that all night.

Faithful readers will recall I was on the fence previously about buying into the digital Sentinels line. I seem to be completely over that now. I like the game; I don’t get to play it enough — because basically if I got to play it enough, I have turned into the guy who always brings it along and draws people in, even when there’s something else more suitable to the situation or group. But now, apparently, I am much more okay with rebuying a bunch of content to get the chance to play more.

There is also the interesting possibility of making a foray into live streaming with this. Though I’m not sure how visually stimulating this will be unless the gimmick is “Speed runs of Sentinels of the Multiverse. How fast can he crash and burn?”

Decked!: Whizzard vs. Jinteki

We’re kicking off something new today. Embedded above is the first episode of Decked!, a web series of people playing board games, in homage to shows like Magic Matchups, Team Covenant‘s living card game coverage and Tabletop. We kick off with a round of Android: Netrunner, in which my friends Alex and Roy pit the relentless trashing might of the anarch Whizzard against the Jinteki corporation’s layers of traps and misdirection.

Click through the video to visit the official Decked! YouTube channel, where you can subscribe to get updates as new episodes post, and browse the archives as they grow.  Decked! is produced with facilities provided by Vermont Community Access Media in Burlington, Vermont. You can also watch it on VCAM 15, or on VCAM’s web player.

Rumble Strip Vermont on Magic: The Gathering

“What do you say to the country of people who just are bewildered?”
“Um, read the manual.”

Erica Heilman, host of Rumble Strip Vermont, posted an episode last night, titled Magic: The Gathering, in which she explores the game of Magic: the Gathering through the eyes of players at the Book Garden in Montpelier during the weekly Friday Night Magic hours. Erica’s son plays Magic, and this episode is like getting to peek through the eyes of someone peeking into the hobby. I love the thoughtful, reflective answers Erica gets to her questions, from interviewees of all ages.

As a bonus, you can also listen to Erica’s son try to teach her how to play Magic in this raw audio clip. I think I can hear them both smiling throughout, which is good, because they get into a bit of a loop about what lands are good for, and why anyone would ever tap them.

Tim Powers: Interview With a Secret Historian

Mitch Wagner posted an interview with Tim Powers, everyone’s favorite fantasy/horror/science fiction writer — and still secret historian of the world, Tim’s distinctions aside.

I was particularly chuffed to see that Tim and I share an outlining style. Mine’s not nearly so exhaustive as his, because GMs have to be far more responsive to players than authors do to their readers, but I do like an outline, and when a bit of dialogue hits me as being possibly helpful, I’ll note it under the event in question, to have it ready.

The interview spans Powers’ career, from the beginning of his implementation of the Arthurian mythos in Drawing of the Dark and its role in the genesis of The Anubis Gates — surprising, right? — right up to writing Hide Me Among the Graves and figuring out what a person would see up on the dome of St. Paul’s in London.

[Hat tip to Kenneth Hite for the link.]