Monday, March 28, 2005

Mellanrummet

I just recieved an invitation to Mellanrummet (The space between). It is a five hour larp in a contemporary setting with focus on guilt, realistic characters and player interaction. I have participated in one of the previous games arraged by this group (NCID) and this one looks really interesting.

We survived GothCon

GothCon is over and we are all still alive. We got to play all our planned games, and overall it was a huge success. In our group of five, this was the first roleplaying convention for three, and they sometimes had problems staying awake and active in this hectic and sleep deprived environment. This wasn't much of a problem and from the comments afterwards they all liked their first convention.

After arriving at 12 on friday our first scenario started at 16.00. It was Five and the castle mystery and turned out to be a fairly standard scenario. Our group, comprised mainly of young girls, arrived at a weird castle in the middle of the forest. At first happy to find help for the mortaly wounded knight in our company, weird incidents indicate that something very wrong is going on. The characters was good but the subtle conflicts between them didn't have enough time to evolve. The plot wasn't that enagaing, maybe because of the shortcomings of our gamemaster. The session was ok but won't be remembered as something special.

When the game had ended and we the convention dinner (quite tasty) was eaten it was around 22. No normal gamer want's to sleep at this time, so I and Sven was shocked when everyone else wanted to go to bed. I took the chance to buy Memoir '44 (the only game for from my "top games" that I do not own) and play it with Sven. I won but it was a close game and he liked it.

Our next game was Get beautiful or rap in Swedish. We was lucky to get a game master that really liked this game and knew it very well. The story was about a new reality show called "Rapmaster". The most improbable person it the country had been selected to be made into the next rap star. My girlfriend, Linnéa, played the choosen star, a big, middle aged, Finland-Swedish man with no talent at all. I played the host of the show, a somewhat sucessful immigrant rapper from the ghetto, that in reality was born in a Swedish middle class home. The others in our group played various persons in the support staff. It was hillarious and noone regreted accepting to play it.

As our next game wouldn't start until 22, now was the time to play Orpheus. Around six months had passed in game since the last session and lots of time was spent to decide what the characters had been up to during this time. After that I introduced an important event in the chronicle. I may get back to my Orpheus chronicle in more detail in a later post.

After dinner we had two hours before Snow white emptiness. Linnéa and Anna wanted to sleep again (!) so I, Sven and Kristoffer decided to play a board game. At first we (or rather I) wanted to try Doom: The Boardgame, but a quick glance at the rules revealed that we wouldn't have enough time. We (or rather I) decided on Colossal Arena instead. It turned out to be a great game and we managed to finish just in time (I won). I wanted to buy this game but decided to wait (more on that in a later post).

Our last game Snow white emptiness was a slow and moody horror scenario. Five men on a repetition exercise in the military service in the cold Swedish north, or rather four 45 year old special forces soliders and a 22 year old woman as their officer. This combination could lead to enough problems even without being transported back to the 15:th century with the resulting madness. The game started out very slow and even if it was essential to the story it made our less experienced players very tired. Linnéa fell asleep. The scenario made good use of sound effects and ambient background, but the equipment could have been better. After the mandatory "veryone gets mad and/or dies" we all vent to sleep. It was a good session but it could easily have been even better. I also want to add that our game master had the large cranium of a pig on the gaming table during the play, apparatly their groups long time mascot.

Sunday was mainly getting up, having breakfast and going home, but we managed to play a game of Kablamo. It was fun but I would prefer playing it a few more times before buying.

Enough about GothCon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

GothCon

On the 25-27:th of Mars me and my roleplaying group are going to visit GothCon, one of Sweden's largest gaming conventions, located in Gothenburg. We are registered for three roleplaying sessions, but unfortunately we are on reserve list for two of them. There were lots of arguing before settling for the following games:

Five and the castle mystery - A fantasy adventure in the the tradition of a youth book. Created by one of Sweden's most prominent scenario writers and presented as "the closest you get to a summer holiday mystery in a medival setting". Should be interesting, and we are on first reserve which shouldn't be a problem.

Get beautiful or rap in Swedish - Comedy based on Swedish achetypes and prejudices. This was the most controversial choice, as me and Sven really wanted to play it but the others didn't care for it at all. I really hope everyone will enjoy it...

Snow white emptiness - You can't visit a convention without playing at least one horror scenario. This is free form and angst, the ideal combination. Five men in an mandatory repetition exercise in the military service. Something is wrong, really wrong. As we are third reserve on this one, there is a risk we won't get to play it. Would be a shame.

In additon to these we are going to play a session of our long campaign in Orpheus... which reminds me I still haven't prepared it. I want this to be a god one. I get back to you with a full report after the convention!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sucessful TI3 session

We played a five player session of Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition today. It was my fourth game and the best one yet. We have managed to get the playing time down but we still spent seven hours excluding pizza break. Out of the box TI3 is somewhat unbalanced but it is a very house rule friendly game. I'm still trying to find the perfect balance, and there are heated discussion on the official forum. TI3 is a great game of colonisation, politics and combat.

This time we used the following main rule changes:
- The Ancient throne (official variant)
- Redeuced the size of the map to closer resemble the conditions of a six player game.
- Increased cost of fighters to one resource each.
- Dreadnoughts cause 2 hits on a natural roll of 8+.
- The Barony of Letnev gets improved special abilities. Trade good cost is halved, fleet support is +2 and can't be lost to the action card "Cultural Crisis".

In addition we used the following smaller changes, that has nothing to do with balance:
- You win if you get eight victory points (as opposed to ten).
- Five stage one and three stage two public objectives was used. No "I win" objectives was inculded.
- Game lasts eight rounds maximum.
- Each player got two sectret objectives, but could only claim one of them. One of the objectives was dealt from the "I control Mecatol Rex" type and the other from the rest.
- Each player was handed two randomly drawn races, and got to choose one of them.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Noneuclidian rules and angles

A comment on BGG on the upcoming rerelease of Arkham Horror:
"I'm worried that the new edition could remove the Cthulhu feel by introducing too many modern mechanics. Hard to feel creeped out when everything is smooth, flawless and perfect... Noneuclidian rules and angles -- now there's the stuff of horror!"
Priceless!

Top boardgames

As this is my blog I get to rant freely about anthing I want. Today I feel the need to rant about boardgames, more precisely my favourite boardgames. You may already know them all but if you don't I highly recommend trying them.

Puerto Rico
I start with this game as it both number one at BGG by a big margin and probably my overall favourite game. Puerto Rico has all the characteristics of modern German game design. No direct conflict, streamlined rules, short playing time and no player elimination. It is a bit more complex and skill dependent than Settlers or Carcassone which may have prevented it reaching the mass market outside Germany. This game is simple enough to be played with your mother but deep enough for the most die hard gamers.

Euphrat & Tigris
One step up from Puerto Rico in complexity, this game is quite unusual as a German design. Thebeautiful tile placing mechanism allows for very deep strategy and tactics and the outcome of the game is determined by direct and cutthroat conflict between the players. I got this game only a few months ago and as my understanding of it increses it has come to rival Puerto Rico. This is a game for the connoisseur, casual gamers may find it a bit to complex.

Citadels
Citadels is a cheap and relatively simple card game. The thing that makes it shine is the main mechanism of secretly choosing a role each turn. Trying to determine the other players choice is the most important part of the game, as it will make you most sucessful in building your city. Quick, simple and brilliant.

Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation
This is a development if the classic game Stratego. Each game piece represent a character from the books, and the basic game of combat is spiced up by special abilities and a set of power cards. This is a highly strategic two player game with no true luck involved. Victory comes from second guessing your opponents intent. A good poker face helps. Playing time is quick but the game gives you no chance to relax which may scare more casual players. At the same time it is very thematic and manages to capture the feel of Lord of the Rings. Definately the best low luck two player game.

Memoir '44
Another two player game, this time a WW2 war game. This is the opposite to The Condrontation, as there is lots of luck involved and an overall light feel. Despite all the dice rolling it allows for meaningfu choices and feels like a good simulation. Old school war gamers may feel cheated but everyone else, including very casual gamers will have lots of fun. If you want a quick and light wargame with great production values, you can't go wrong with Memoir '44.

A Game of Thrones
Multiplayer war games used to always be drawn out affairs. A Game of Thrones proves this don't have to be the case. It mixes American and German design principles to make a focused and strategic game that involves both diplomacy and military strategy. The different mechanics blend seemlessly into an exerience for all but the most casual gamers. The only problem is the possibility of player elimination, but that is to be expected in a wargame. It playes a bit longer than the other games at around three hours.

Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
In some cases the quick and streamlined German philosophy is not good enough. If you want to build a great galactic empire and fight epic battles no game is better than Twilight Imperium. This edition takes some inspiration from the latest years development in gaming but it is till a monster of a game. Long rulebook, huge game board and a playing time of at least six hours. This game is not for everyone but certainly the best of its kind. The base game has some serious problems so be sure to use 'The Ancient Throne' official variant from the publishers homepage.

Thats all for now. If you like board games, make sure you get to play these games at least once. If you do not agree with me, make a comment...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The World of Dragons

I lied to you when I wrote I didn't roleplay until an age of thirteen. When I first read through Drakar och Demoner it all seemed very natural to me. I had been doing this before. My true first contact with roleplaying was many years earlier. I do not remember exactly when but I belvie it was around first or second grade. Me, my brother and a friend of us developed this imaginary world called "Drakarnas Värld" (The World of Dragons), a fantasy planet inspired by television shows like Masters of the Universe. The only character I remember is my borthers creation The Catman. We had extensive roleplaying sessions where we mainly played one of our own characters. Situations that would normally require a game master was resolved by consensus (and the occasional heated argument). The in character sessions were complemented by drawings and shorter texts. Drakarnas Värld gradually evolved into an over the top cyberpunk setting complete with multinational companies and space invasions. Many of the old villains became protagonists in an era of new and greater evils. In time, The World of Dragons was abandoned and forgotten.

Starting around fourth grade choose-your-own-adventure books had become popular. After both reading a particularly good one me and my best friend continued the adventure from the book by ourselves. I was the gamemaster and he played the main protagonist from the book. It was compleately free form and I made most of it up on the go. We played during the breaks at school and it didn't take long before other kids joined us. The only thing lacking was dice, rules and a formal definition of the game world.

So, when I opended up my first roleplaying book I wasn't suprised at all. This was just the next step. In one form or another I have been roleplaying most of my life. The most interesting part is that my style is currently developing more towards the type of roleplaying I used to do before my first rpg book. I do want a prepared scenario but I usually skip the rules and dice. Some of my current friends are experimenting with collaborative storytelling and getting rid of the game master, just as in The World of Dragons. Development have come full circle.

Two and a half hours of Reiner Kniza

The excellent gaming site BoardGameGeek has recently posted their 18:th installment of GeekSpeak, where they interview persons of interest to the board game community. This episode features the game designer superstar Reiner Kniza. Mr Kniza is very porductive with around 30 completely new games each year and is known for his high and even quality.

The interview is in .mp3 format and have a total running time of nearly two and a half hours. It may seem like to much for anyone but if you are interested in game design it is highly recommended. Grab it from BGG or the links below (each part is around 50mb):

Part one
Part two

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The games I played

I've played most types of hobby games. For a large part of my life gaming has been very important.

It started when I was around thirteen. My two year younger brother got a copy of Drakar och Demoner (Dragons and Demons), the most popular game at the time, for his birthday. As me and my brother had lots of friends in common, it was natural for my to mantle the role of game master. A hectic period of roleplaying followed. In the most active periods we played each day after school and the whole weekends. It was great. We expanden our play to other game systems. The first english game was Star Wars by West End Games.

Then we discovered Magic: The Gathering. It was an instant hit. The collecting and trading of our youth combined with a great game. For a year or two this game took much time from roleplaying. Other card games got played to, but nothing compared to the original.

The next step was table top games and Games Workshop. If we spent lots of money on Magic this was nothing compared to Warhammer. By this time I was maybe 16 or 17 and had more money to spend. During high school this was the games that got most play but it was never the frequency of the early years with Drakar och Demoner and the like. I also did some live action roleplaying (larp), mainly Vampire and fantasy games.

When I moved for college gaming became more rare. There was some tabletop roleplaying with new people and one year I played GW games pretty frequent but I started to belive active gaming was a thing of the past.

Durning the last three years things have changed. It started with the "german" wave of boardgames. Getting people to play these games was easy as it requires little commitment. Nothing strange there. Playing an organised rpg campaign had seemed like impossible, everyone had to much "life" to tend to. But for some reason this changed to. There was roleplying going on everywhere around me.

I have also gotten back into live action roleplaying (or lajv as it's called in Sweden). This time it's not standard fantasy but more experimental plays in a historic or conteporary setting. The rules light nature of these arrengements have also pushed me towards a more free form way of playing table top rpgs.

My thought on rpgs, larps and board games, that's what you'll find in this blog. If you've read this far I guess you're at least mildly interested in the subject...

Friday, March 11, 2005

You got to have a blog...

You got to have a blog these days. In the future all communication will be through blogs. Or not. Blogs are just a place to put stuff to bad to fit anywhere else. I guess that's a good thing.

Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about gaming. Roleplaying games, live action roleplaying, board games and everything connected to them. Gaming is what I do. The part that matters anyway.

Only time will tell if something even remotely interesting ends up here...