Monday, 25 August 2014

Sentinels Of The Multiverse: Campaign Game

Another one of those games that I've blogged about on here on a few occasions is Sentinels.  Seeing that someone was running a 3-part scenario driven game of this at Gen Con I knew that I had to play in it.

The linkage between the scenarios was light so that it didn't get 2 prescriptive based on results.  Each scenario had 2 objectives - a primary and a secondary.  It was the successful completion of these objectives that determined specific things for the following scenario.

The villains we played against were -

The Ennead : I've never played against these guys before and DAMN! are they a tough nut to crack.  Unless you're able to nullify their stacking abilities or deal out some serious damage then you're not going to get very far against them.  Which is about as far as we got...  It wasn't a loss but it wasn't much of a victory either!

Then it was Ambuscade : Far simpler to combat than The Ennead (as there's just the one of him!) but he's really tough. Success awaited us in this game though and we managed to take him down although he did take out 2 of us in the process - including Chrono Ranger who I'd been playing.

And finally it was Gloom Weaver.  In this game I'd changed character to Fanatic and boy was she uber effective against him. We didn't defeat him in the time allocated but we did complete the secondary objective.

All in all it was a fun way to play the game and having the clock ticking really added to the play style of the group. After all none of us knew each other before we started to play.

Might look to do something similar for future times we play Sentinels!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Atomic Robo RPG At Gen Con!

So as you may have gathered from previous posts I'm a bit of an Atomic Robo fanboy.

Perhaps you can imagine my fanboyness reaching exponential levels when +Liz Mackie and I played in a game of Atomic Robo run by +Mike Olson who only went and wrote the game!

Ok so I think I actually played it kinda cool and didn't have any fanboy moments but I'll let others judge me on that!

So the game - "Bring Me The Head Of Doctor Dinosaur" had the description of "Twelve years ago, a lunatic calling himself Dr. Dinosaur murdered everyone you know. And to make matters worse, he's your brother. Majestic 12 wants to study him. Tesladyne wants to bring him to justice. But you? You just want revenge."

I played Fang - An almost human with lizard abilities and the character sheet is below.

Our mission was simple enough and that was to find and kill Doctor Dinosaur.
This obviously wasn't that easy to achieve but along the way we encountered Robo, Jenkins, Majestic 12 and many other characters from the comic books which really helped to bring it to life. My companions in the game were
Ghost - A Lemur "ninja" with a thing for knives. Played by +Liz Mackie
Tank - A bipedal Triceratops who hit REALLY HARD.
Professor - An octopus who was supremely intelligent especially in relation to Chaos Theory.

Needless to say we managed to catch the crazy one and managed to put him in an early grave.

Afterwards Mike signed both Liz and I's copies of the game and we had a good chat about stuff.  Liz and Mike are looking to synchronise schedules to try and get something recorded for +NearlyEnoughDice too which would be awesome.

Funniest out of game moment was when Mike realised who we were - "Hey, wait you're David Wright!" and the girl next to me (name forgotten apologies but you were playing The Professor) turned and asked if I was famous.  I politely said No and explained how I'd got in touch with Mike prior to the convention.

Lots of fun had and now I need to start thinking about running it...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Gen Con 2014 - 3 Key Lessons Learned

Going to something like Gen Con is not a small undertaking when you live in the UK.

For me it involved travelling 3,765 miles (give or take a few miles) each way.  All of that went fine. Flights etc were without problem, we had enough time in between connecting flights to relax and take our time without the gap being tooooo long. Apartment we chose was also completely fine with a few niggles, which is where the 1st lesson comes from.

1st Lesson - Location Does Matter.
Despite being ONLY a 15 minute walk away the apartment felt too far away at times.  Not just when I was carrying 327 bags of stuff but also just the general tooing and froing between the venue and the apartment.  It was just too far away that it made a quick bag drop too time consuming and so whenever we did anything like that it invariably resulted in us staying at the apartment.
Some of that was down to general tiredness but as strange as it sounds, being just 10 minutes closer or being in one of the adjoined (via skywalk) hotels would have made a lot of difference and made it more likely that we'd be gaming later into the night.

That aside we all managed to stick to the minimum 3 hours sleep, 2 meals and 1 shower per day rule shared by those awesome UnderGophers at Under Discussion.  Although on the Thursday I had to have 2 showers as I was sweating buckets carrying around all of my purchases.  Picking up my purchases was something I managed to do very very easily thanks to having early access to the hall what with being press and all that.  It did mean that both Liz and I had to be there super early on the Thursday to make sure we were amongst the first 100 press passers but that was easy enough.

2nd Lesson - Press Pass Was Worth It
Ok so I was always going to write a number of things about Gen Con in the blog but getting the Press Pass enabled a number of things.
1) Attendance of Trade Day Seminars - Ok so these were a bit hit & miss or possibly closer to miss & miss in the main but what I learned from them both from a content and lack of content perspective was useful.  I'll have a few posts about the Seminars I attended in due course.
2) Press Room - I really didn't use this for much of anything other than a "rest point". Free water / juice was enough to get me to use the room and of course the free Wi-Fi that was offered to the press was useful although I didn't really use it that much.
3) Early Access to Exhibit Hall - Definitely the biggest benefit.  1 hour before the masses entered the hall meant that I got the majority of my shopping done quickly. It may have been a bit frantic in places but that early access was worth it and I'd definitely do it again.

As I posted in the run up to Gen Con I had a pretty packed schedule.  What I didn't appreciate fully was the distance between all of the things I wanted to do and similarly my level of desire to actually do those things instead of these other things would diminish.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like I wasn't having fun or anything just that the schedule became a bit more erm fluid once I got there and other than some specific games (posts to follow) and a couple of seminars I might have been better off just buying a bunch of generics and randomly playing stuff.

3rd Lesson - Don't Pack Your Schedule
As I've said above this was more a question of over planning rather than being spontaneous.  If I was ever to go to Gen Con again (not next year but sometime) then I'd more than likely want to keep an abundance of space other than some MUST do events.  Keeping things fluid let's you see more of the convention itself.  Sure you might miss out on some really cool stuff but at the same time you might discover some other REALLY COOL STUFF!

There are other lessons that I learned whilst being at Gen Con but these 3 are probably the stand out ones for me.  If there was a 4th then it would be - Don't try to eat 24 donuts and drink 3 litres of coffee in 1 day.  Fortunately I learned that one BEFORE I tried it.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Best Four Days in Shopping erm Gaming!

I'm going to do a few posts on my experience at Gen Con but I thought I'd do a quick one on what I actually bought.  It's safe to say that I bought a lot of stuff...

That pile doesn't include any of the 12 (yes twelve) t-shirts that I bought when there too...

So what did I buy?

D&D Player's Handbook and Hoard Of The Dragon Queen - These were actually bought at Downtown Comics in Indianapolis which was just round the corner from our apartment.  I picked up 4 D&D T-Shirts and 2 playmats at the con itself (no, I don't really know why they have playmats or why I bought them... But they'll be good for rolling dice on!).  The books are amazing to look at and I'll have a follow up post about what I thought of the game itself in due course.

At Gen Con itself I bought -

Abyss - The artwork alone is just amazing. I've heard so much positive news about this game that I wanted to pick it up anyway but the art really sells it.
Battletech Alpha Strike Lance Sets (1 each of the Assault, Battle, Pursuit and Support sets) and Ad Hoc Unit Cards - +Greg and myself played in a game of Alpha Strike at Gen Con (future post on that) and I bought these afterwards. Some of the mechs are ones I already have but that just means I can field 2 Atlas' if I want!!!  Just need to work out whether I'm going to paint them or not.  More on that later... Oh and I also bought a Battletech t-shirt.
Bigfootses - This was one of those games that I wasn't sure about. A few people have said it's a Munchkin clone and whilst I'm not a huge fan of Munchkin I do like this. Perhaps it's the theme that sells me on it, I'm not sure but we played it at the airport on our way home and I enjoyed it.  Not entirely sure why it's a 12+ game as I think it could be 10+ but it might simply be down to the hunting element of the game.
Car Wars Classic - A classic (hence the name!) reprint of one of those games from way back in the beginning of my hobby. I do expect to play this once in a while though as I remember it being a lot of fun and the stuff you get in the box warrants play i.e. the playmat maps alone make me want to go all Mad Max again plus with the new Mad Max film coming out I think Car Wars will be back with a bigger bang (edition) soon enough!
Cash & Guns (2nd Edition) - I played the original of this many years ago and it was always on my "to pick up" list as it's a fun game.
Coup : Reformation expansion - Coup is a great little game and Reformation adds more flavour to that "universe" by incorporating themes that look to be lifted from The Resistance (another great game from Indie Boards & Cards Games) oh and it increases the number of players up to 10.
Dark Dungeons DVD - Went to the première of this on the Friday night and it was great fun.  Plus JR Ralls signed my copy of Mazes & Monsters which was very cool of him.
Dragon Slayer - Another Indie Boards & Cards Games game.  In a similar vein to dice games like Zombie dice but feels more intuitive as you have a Slayer set and a Dragon set which are rolled together in an attempt to slay one of 3 dragons (Green, Blue and Red).  Quick and lots of fun.
Lords Of Xidit - Same universe as Seasons but a very different looking game.  It's based on a game called Himalaya (which I've never played) which was created by the same designer and as with a number of other games on my bought list the art is amazing.
Munchkin : Adventure Time - It's a gift for my brother Allan and his family. They're all Adventure Time crazy.  It means nothing to me.
Night Of The Grand Octopus (Link is in French) - Speaking of amazing art.  This is just gorgeous and I mean who doesn't want to play a game with gorgeous art like this? It's a game about summoning Cthulhu (The Grand Octopus) but it's not dark in any sense.  I'm really looking forward to trying this one out.
RARRR!! - You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a King Of Tokyo clone but it's not. Well not mechanically anyway.  The objective of the game is to make your own monster and then fight other monsters with it. Aimed at the younger market (8+) I really want to try this one out with my daughter.
Seasons : Path Of Destiny expansion - The most recent expansion for Seasons adds even more cards and some new mechanics.  It doesn't add any more players though :-(  I did however get a fabulous looking Seasons playmat for free! :-)
Sentinel Tactics - My primary purchase at Gen Con was ALL OF THE THINGS for this.  So I picked up the Flames Of Freedom Core Game, Uprising Expansion 1 and both sets of miniatures. It looks fantastic and the booth for Greater Than Games was packed the whole con with people getting demos of this and other games.  I also managed to pick up a Sentinels Of The Multiverse T-Shirt. I expect to get these painted by someone else as I want them done properly so might get my Battletech mechs done at the same time too.  We'll see.
T-Shirts - 6 other t-shirts were bought in addition to those already mentioned.  All of which were picked up from the Offworld Designs booth.
Shinobi Wat-Aah! - You may remember I had 2 Samurai games in my To Buy list?  Well I bought neither of those and ended up buying this one. I'll admit it was amidst the panic and I was already at the Iello booth and obviously the art is amazing.
Zombie Dice 2 & 3 - I picked these up just because I was at the SJ Games booth to pick up Car Wars Classic and also Munchkin : Adventure Time.

I also bought a giant foam d20, some large 32mm polyhedral dice and a Gen Con dice bag.  The 2 books in the picture are novels written by R. A. Salvatore.  I was asked by some friends to get his signature but I'll likely do a separate post about that experience!

Plus the eagle eye'd amongst you will have noticed the Anna and Elsa from Frozen dolls.  I've been trying to get these in the UK for my daughter for about 6 months to no avail as they're constantly out of stock.  Popped into a toy store in the Circle Centre Shopping Mall which is next to the convention centre and picked up Elsa on the Wednesday and Anna on the Sunday (was out of stock on the Wednesday). Very excited and happy 7 year old daughter achieved, in addition to getting me home again too of course!

So yeah, a lot of shopping was done at Gen Con and safe to say I don't expect I'll be buying anything any time soon!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Travelling To Gen Con 2014

So it started almost like part of my normal daily commute. In other words it started early.

5:30am departure to pick up Greg and then pick up Liz for us all to get into the airport for no later than 7:30am.  Or at least that was the plan.

As it turned out my body clock woke me up 20 minutes early and I ended up leaving the house earlier than planned too. Meant I had time for a brief stop off at the local supermarket before picking up Greg.  So far so good.

We were at this point about 20 minutes ahead of schedule and Liz had already messaged me to see where I was. "At Greg's" was my response and sure enough when we got to Liz's (probably 25 minutes early by this point) she wasn't ready.  10 minutes later though we were heading for the airport.

All good and so things continued to be.  Airport check-in had been done online so it was really just a bag drop then get through security. Unfortunately the print outs of the tickets were poor so we had to go back down to check-in and get new ones. Not big deal.
Security was strangely quiet (I'm used to it being mobbed when I travel for work) and we got through that with no hitches.

Quick browse of the retail offerings, a quick (expensive) breakfast and we met up with a fellow Gen Con traveller - Jon Hodgson, artist and art director extraordinaire for Cubicle 7.  Jon and I met during the 1st Chapter and he's a genuinely decent bloke. He was going to Gen Con for work reasons, something admittedly I hoped I still was but hey that's the 1st Chapter...

We spent an hour chatting about the con and what to expect including a minor critique of my "buy list" and that 3 hour wait largely sailed by.

Flight was on time and we headed for the gate at the perfect time to board.  Nothing of any real consequence to report.

The flight was a non-event other than it did seem to take an age but that's because it did.  Food - passable, comfort - Ok.  I read some of Mazes & Monsters (separate post on that to come) and I also dozed off at times which felt like a good plan to offset any jetlag.

Connection in Philidelphia went smoothly and we had enough time to sit and chat and drink beer (well Greg and I did).  The airport in Philli is more like a mall with some airport stands attached.  You could almost buy anything there including (to our collective amusement) a Harley Davidson.

I'd heard before that internal flights in the US feel like getting on a bus/train in the UK.  There were certainly elements of that to this flight as the crew seemed to be less regimented in explaining the safety detail etc.  There were some other Gen Con goers on the flight, nobody we knew and knowing that 50,000+ people would be attending there was very little desire at that time to engage.  Perhaps a bit bad of us but hey we just wanted to get there...

And so there we got. Flight was on time, bags were quick-ish for collection and we grabbed a cab into town.  Dropped Mr Hodgson off at his hotel en route and to then we got to the apartment.

Positives - Lots. Big roomy space and thankfully (for Liz mostly) a decent sofa to use as a bed.  I did offer to take the sofa but Liz declined the offer. Decent kitchen and so on.
Negatives - It's tired (and I'll feed this back to the agent) and in need of a freshening up in places.  Biggest thing though is that there's a smell...  Not oppresive but it's there and we can't identify it either.  It's not a big deal though as it's not disrupting sleep etc.

Other positives are the location both from a proximity to the convention centre perspective (sub 15 minutes leisurely walk) and the facilities around us.  Not least of which is Square which is right next door.  Great coffee and donuts which was perfect way to start our Wednesday.  Great comic/game store round the corner too and we took advantage of the nearby Farmer's Market for me to pick up bananas to at least attempt something healthy...

There is no such thing as a "local" supermarket from what we've seen so far but the Big Red Liquor store next door does soft drinks and snacks as well as beer - Sierra Nevada Summerfest being our choice.

So yeah, we are here and settled in.  No apparent jet lag either other than some aches (mostly me but that's nothing new),

I'll not commit to doing a day by day post but wanted to get something up to signify our arrival at what promises to be the Best Best Four Days In Gaming Ever.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Gen Con - My (Maybe) Buy List (Maybe)

This is really just a long list of STUFF that I've perused on a variety of websites listing what's coming out at Gen Con.

Some of this will actually be bought and some of this will simply be looked at and drooling will commence.  I'm going to fail to stick to my principle (remember them?) of only buying what I'm going to play, I know that going in but I'm going to attempt to not fail at it completely!!!

Most of this is taken from the Gen Con 2014 Preview thread over at

Doomtown : Reloaded
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)

Ape Games

The Spoils: New Player Pack – The Basic Box of Awesomeness
Arcane Tinmen

Sheriff of Nottingham
Arcane Wonders

The Battle of Five Armies
Ares Games

Dino Race
Ares Games

Among the Stars and Among the Stars: The Ambassadors
Stronghold Games

Bigfootses, The Card Game
Bigfootses Games

Blue Orange Games


Zeppelin Attack
Evil Hat Games

Samurai Spirit
Fun Forge

Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom (If GTG get their shipment in time...)
Greater Than Games

Plucky Pilots

Coup: Reformation
Indie Boards & Cards

Dragon Slayer
Indie Boards & Cards

King Of New York

Night Of Grand Octopus

Lords of Xidit

Conan: Hyborian Quests
Monolith (Asmodee)

Good Cop, Bad Cop
Overworld Games

Shinobi Clans
Posthuman Studios

Car Wars
Steve Jackson Games

Munchkin Adventure Time (Probably as a gift for someone...)
Steve Jackson Games

Incredible Expeditions : Quest For Atlantis
Voodoo Bunny Co. LLC

Pandemic : Contagion
Z-Man Games

Gen Con - My Itinerary (The Sunday)

All good things... Whilst Gen Con comes to an end on the Sunday my trip to Gen Con doesn't as we don't fly back until the Monday.

So what does the Sunday have in store for me? Not a lot (of events).

The list is short because Gen Con essentially packs up for the year around 4pm on the Sunday.

Doomtown Reloaded - Alderac's returning card game.  Unlike the event I have on the Wednesday this one is aimed at players who want to learn how to play.

Shadow on the Moonsea - The only D&D event outstanding from the various official 5th Edition games being run at Gen Con.

So what else?  Well there will be the mandatory last minute survey of the trader hall to see if there are any bargains available. This is entirely dependent on there being any space left in my case...

The plan for the Sunday night is quite simple.  Meet up with my fellow travellers, have dinner at Ruth's Chris and reflect on the event as a whole.

There may be some playing of games either just amongst us or by meeting up with people we've connected with over the week or through use of #genconpug

We don't leave til mid-afternoon on the Monday (well we need to be at the airport for 2pm ish) so there will be some wandering round the fair city of Indianapolis and probably some more unhealthy food too.

So yeah, that'll be the end of Gen Con 2014.  One of the first questions that I'll start to ask myself at this point is whether I want to go again in 2015.  Far too early to consider that though!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Gen Con - My Itinerary (The Saturday)

I hope you've all recovered from the last post not being about Gen Con.
I could have put Gen Con references in it as after all it's about posting daily about RPGs in August which is when Gen Con happens but I decided to make it all about RPGaDay instead.

Anyway, where were we?  Ah yes, Gen Con!!!

So by now my horde of stalkers will be thinking "What does Dave have planned for his Saturday at Gen Con?"  Let me tell you this, it's mostly D&D.

Dungeons & Dragons the New Edition : Ready, Set, Play! - My day starts at 10am taking part in what's essentially a 2 hours session / workshop of how to play the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons.  Sounds like a great way of doing it as there will be members of the D&D team there to handle questions and walk people through Character Creation. This is as much about ensuring that I've grasped the mechanics of the game as it is about anything else.
Anyone who knows my gaming style knows that I'm -ahem- somewhat lax about reading rulebooks cover to cover.  If I can't remember a rule I will invariably wing it rather than pull the rulebook out to check the rules.  That's probably a post all by itself...

Secrets Of Sokol Keep - Now we're talking.  4 hours of D&D 5th Edition goodness. Full scenario spec is below and I don't know if this is simply down to me being a D&D Fanboy or not but the spec really sounds great - "Decades have passed since Sokol Keep was reclaimed, and a small garrison placed there along with a beacon to help guide ships. Now, that beacon has gone dark, and the garrison has disappeared. In Phlan, rumors circulate that something ancient was discovered in the grounds beneath the keep, dating to before the clerics of Tyr built the small fortress. Uncover the secrets of Sokol Keep!"

Live Shut Up & Sit Down Podcast! - Ok so this one is another "optional" ones that I've signed up for.  Shut Up & Sit Down is a vid/podcast series about playing tabletop games. I have enjoyed a number of their shows in the past and particularly like their Intro to board games video.  I'm not really that bothered about going to the event though (there are still tickets available so again no guilt associated) but similarly I am tempted.

Corruption in Kryptgarden - Yep that's more D&D!  The added benefit of being in this event is that it means I'm already where I need to be for the event that follows it which is the D&D CELEBRATION CEREMONY.

That takes us to well 9pm for when Corruption finishes and the D&D CELEBRATION CEREMONY is only supposed to last an hour (yeah, right) so that's a 10pm finish.  Again the temptation exists to play some late night Magic: The Gathering...  we'll wait and see how the old body is fairing at that point!  After all it's not like we're leaving on the Sunday...

Saturday, 2 August 2014


Wait, this isn't a Gen Con post!


I wanted to bring your attention to a social media gaming goodness experience of a lifetime.  Ok maybe not.

It's this -

I'm taking part via my Twitter feed which is then syndicated to my Facebook Page.

The idea is the brain child of +Autocratik (David F. Chapman) and if you want to know more go here -

I will now return you to your regular guide of stalking me at +Gen Con Indy

Gen Con - My Itinerary (The Friday)

Before I continue with the perfect guide to stalking me at Gen Con I need to reflect back on my post for the Wednesday.

One of the events that I planned to attend has been cancelled - Every School Should Have a Games Club.  This made me sad as I was really looking forward to learning stuff in this one around the overall promotion of the hobby.  The guy who was running isn't running any other seminars so unfortunately this looks like he's been unable to make it hence the cancellation.  These things happen and given the likely overlap with a couple of other seminars I should get plenty of content for the brain and blog.

So, Friday!  What excitement awaits me?

Gaming for Good: An Insider's Guide to Playing Games for Charity - Should be fairly clear why I want to go to this, especially if you've been reading this blog for a while...  I think this should also touch on ways in which to promote the benefits of what is a very social hobby.

Defiance in Phlan - It's D&D! (Ok so I did that last time...) Yep this is the likely first slot of D&D 5th Edition that I'll play unless I take part in the Thursday 11pm slot.

Bring Me The Head Of Dr Dinosaur - It's Atomic Robo! Run by game creator +Mike Olson! Plus +Liz Mackie is playing in this game too!

Sentinels Of The Multiverse : A Storyline Game - So this is interesting.  3 back to back games of SotM where the characters / villains are determined by a common story.  Very cool idea and brings another layer of roleplaying to one of my favourite games.  Plus +Greg Barr is playing in this one!

The last event on the Friday is more of a walk-in experience.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tyranny Of Dragons Launch Party - This is an all day event with the real focus from 7pm to 11pm. I'm in the SotM from 6pm to 9pm so will miss some of this but as I say it's more of a walk-in experience rather than something you sit down to participate in after all it's taking place outside of the Convention Centre on Georgia Street. The real buzz for 5th Edition I think will be on the Saturday night but that's for the next post...

I also intend to use the timegaps I have on the Friday (not many but some) to browse a bit more and demo some games.  I've tried to be careful and not block my diary out completely (as hard as that can be to avoid) as I want to balance events with experiencing the con.  Right now I think my schedule is fine but I fully expect that might change!!!