The Messenger sounds interesting, and Burnout coming to Switch

The Messenger Burnout Paradise

The Messenger sounds exciting, but it is for the US only. And soon I can crash cars during lunch at work in Burnout Paradise!

Today is a funny one. The Kickstarter that caught my attention the most is restricted to US delivery only. Oh no, the first world problems 😀

So today, a couple of mini-articles on things I am looking forward to are rolled together as one!

Can you solve the mystery left by The Messenger?

I like things that tickle my brain, but only in certain moods. At the moment, work is doing that well enough thank you!

So the other day when I saw The Messenger on Kickstarter, I took note. The premise of a package turning up at your door with a mystery to solve isn’t unique, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun.

The idea behind The Messenger is you receive a package from Shaun Lyons. Shaun accepted the package himself but has run out of time to finish the puzzle. So now, he has passed the mystery on to you.

It looks intriguing, and the same people created the Immersion Escape Rooms. At AUD$100 for hours of puzzles, I was ready to jump in and hit the button.

And then I saw the catch. It delivers to the US only. So while I would happily back this one, this time delivery limits means I will have to pass this one.

The Messenger Contents
Lots of things to puzzle through. You can have your own consipracy room in no time!

But if you are in the US and you enjoy escape rooms, check out the Kickstarter – this might fit into your library nicely!

So something I can look forward to – Burnout Paradise Remastered is coming to the Switch!

Burnout is a great arcade driving series and one I miss. While I haven’t played much of the remaster on the PS4, I enjoyed cruising around Paradise City on my PS3. 

My biggest complaint is that I got tired of hearing Guns and Roses every time I fired it up!

Burnout Paradise is a game that lets you explore the world and drive at ridiculous speeds. The driving is very arcade-like in feel – floor the accelerator and let rip!

The remastered edition comes with all DLC, meaning you can play with a massive selection of vehicles from the start. I don’t know how multiplayer will fare on the Switch, but I don’t play much online multiplayer anyway. So this will be a way for me to kick back on my lunch break/in front of the TV, and just enjoy some irresponsible antics.

If you do want to play against other racers, maybe hold off for formal reviews on how the Switch handles online gaming. Or look at grabbing Burnout Paradise Remastered on PlayStation, Xbox or PC.

Come June 19, I believe this will be another great addition to my Switch library.

What about you? Is there a Kickstarter you think I missed and should be excited about? Or something else coming up that you think I should look at?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Blood Rage Digital comes to life Tomorrow!

Blood Rage Digital Edition

Blood Rage in both forms were initially Kickstarted. That counts. Doesn’t it? CMON, sure it does.

Look, it’s been a day work-wise. I couldn’t resist the pun. Little things, right?

Looking around Kickstarter the last few days, nothing has really jumped out at me. I’m not saying there is nothing good on Kickstarter this week – just nothing that particularly caught my eye.

That said, a couple of weeks ago, I got my Kickstarter code for one of the rare video games I have backed – The Wonderful 101. It’s downloaded on my Switch, I just haven’t played it yet.

This got me thinking, a Kickstarter for a digital adaption of an Eric M. Lang classic releases tomorrow. That’s right – Blood Rage Digital is coming, and even though I didn’t back it, my Steam preorder is ready to go!

Why didn’t you back Blood Rage?!?

With the first Kickstarter for Blood Rage, I think I was already heavily invested in other projects. The idea had appeal, it was just juggling finances.

Then at PAX Aus 2015, a friend of mine got to buy it. We quickly cleared a section of the table and jumped straight it. I remember confusion, shenanigans, and being the Vikingist Viking at the table. :p

Not long after, I bought my own copy. This instantly made me regret not backing Blood Rage. The Kickstarter Exclusives were quickly seen to fill in some gameplay gaps not available at retail.

Blood Rage Digital Edition Gameplay
It looks like you can see all the essential information easily

I did not repeat this mistake with Rising Sun.

But the board game is always better.

When you have people around to play with, absolutely. Sharing out setup, the friendly digs, just the general atmosphere – this always beats digital for me hands down.

But.

Digital board games have come a long way over the years. Not just in looks (although the increased graphical quality is nice), but in actually recreating the gameplay feel.

You don’t always have people around to play with. Having the computer available as other players means you can play when you want. Setup time is replaced by load times. Saving a game and coming back to it later is simple.

Blood Rage Digital Edition Sea Monster
I am pretty sure the monster is the mini Eric Lang grabbed during a convention and jumped on

So we should preorder Blood Rage?

As always, that depends on you. I have, and I grabbed a copy for Harls. As long as he isn’t neck-deep in Destiny 2, it’s another way to play a new game, and we can do it without travel. We can even play over multiple sessions easily.

This is mainly a heads up that Blood Rage is coming to digital. There is a 10% discount for preordering, but the full price is only AUD$28.95. Compared to the board game, that’s a steal!

Preordering also get the official Soundtrack and Mythical Monsters DLC. This will let you set lose the Mountain Giantess, Garm, Seer Troll, Wolfwoman, Ymir, Hildisvini and Nídhöggr. Each has their own special abilities, and can change the flow of the game.

Blood Rage Digital Edition Mythical Creatures
Not someone you want to see wander into the battlefield

There is a lot of talk about how the beautiful miniatures were digitised into Blood Rage, and they do look good in the pics. You don’t even have to paint them! Yes, I realise that is a drawback for some.

From the screens, it looks like a lot of work has gone into capturing the feel of the game, so yes, I am looking forward to it. Hopefully, I will be jumping on it this weekend for a couple of games, and I will give at least my First Impressions next week.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Stop the Train! Social Deduction on Kickstarter

Stop the Train Box Art

The problem with most social deduction games is getting players to invest in the experience. Stop the Train! solves this problem beautifully.

I enjoy Social Deduction games. They aren’t for everyone, though. Being forced to lie about your role/motives/whatever causes stress for some players, and this is understandable. A lot of players will play games that they don’t realise are social deduction games though, such as Dead of Winter.

Why do they do this? In my experience, it tends to be because the game gives them a framework to play in. Even without looking at player motives, the game has set goals that everyone has to overcome.

These games tend to come with a complication cost. I can’t imagine a game of Dead of Winter that goes less than two hours, with a heap of setup and tear down on top of that. Simpler games like One Night Werewolf are quick to play but have ways of winning too easily.

Step in Escape Plan! (they love their exclamation marks) that has bought what looks like the best of both worlds.

Stop the Train Components
It looks like a lot, but I am keen on the simplicity of the board setup

Introducing Stop the Train!

The premise is simple – you are on a train headed to Paris, and a Saboteur is trying to get it to crash into the Paris station. Your goal (unless you want it to crash) is to stop this from happening.

So gameplay sounds simple – see who wants the train to keep going faster, and throw them off the train. Simple, right?

Well, no. And this is why I bought up Dead of Winter. Each character also has their own goals. There is a speedster that wants to break the land speed record. The engineer wants to take a particular route. The Mi6 agent wants the saboteur alive for questioning, so doesn’t want them thrown from the train.

So unlike Werewolf where there are a bunch of ‘Wow. I’m here. Great.’ characters, everyone has their own goals to keep in mind. There is always a reason to play in the game, and the board gives everyone a tangible focus.

Stop the Train Passengers
Anyone that has played Social Deduction games will be familiar with the character types
Stop the Train Passengers 2
You can see where the conflicting goals work for and against you
Stop the Train Passengers 3
The mix of roles will make repeated gameplay interesting

OK. I’m listening.

The preview rules are up on the Kickstarter campaign, and it feels like a great game. There are multiple ‘outs’ for the saboteur as well, something that doesn’t always happen with these games.

What do I mean by outs? There are plenty of characters that will be ‘helping’ them as they try to fulfil their objectives. Also, even if you get thrown from the train, you can still win. The others still need to slow down the train, so it doesn’t crash.

The best part? Even a teaching game, where people will be taking time to learn the timings and flow, cant be more than 45 minutes.

I can’t see how the game works?

They have you covered. As well as having the rules available, there is a quick video showing some gameplay highlights on the campaign page.

So as you can see, there is plenty of confusion for the saboteur to work within. There are also mechanics like interventions to help players settle in their roles.

Are you backing it?

Yes. As I said, I love social deduction games. Add the semi-cooperative nature of the game, and this is a game that players like myself and Harls can have a great time.

When this article goes up, there will still be almost two days to jump in on the early bird specials as well. I can see a lot of fun with Stop the Train! on many game nights.

For more information and to check it out yourself, jump over to the campaign page here.

What about you? Are you excited for a new social deduction/semi cooperative game, or do you think there are enough already?

Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Roll & Play: The Game Master’s Tabletop Toolkit

Roll & Play Cover Concept Art

When you run a role-playing campaign, your party will always throw your plans in the bin. Now there is help!

I remember my role playing campaign as a Dungeon Master with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition. I spent months getting the campaign ready. I had a list of NPCs (Non-Player Characters) on hand prepared to jump in as the story dictated. My maps were detailed, with multiple encounters and some generic fallback encounters ready.

I was familiar with the setting and lore. I thought I was ready.

On the very first session, my party went so far away from the outlined route and my ‘planned’ deviations, I had to call the session after 40 minutes. That was depressing.

Who would have thought that trying to break into a random characters house opposite from where they should be going would become a significant plot point?

This change meant juggling prepped characters and creating some new ones to fit what the party was doing. I had to map out new areas in much more detail, as it was apparent a lot of time was going to be spent there.

Tavern Ideas
Need a quick location in a hurry? Roll the name! All the die are in common RPG dice sets, and clearly show what is needed.

That sounds like a nightmare!

It kind of was. This is a significant hurdle that scares off many aspiring Storytellers. The prevailing logic of “It’s a learning curve, you will learn to adapt to it” is true, but not always helpful.

Over the years, I started to build up ‘generic’ lists that could be quickly adapted to fit multiple scenarios and even game worlds. I still have some NPCs that I created for World of Darkness campaigns that I know will fit in my upcoming Cyberpunk Red campaign.

This is all built from experience. Like anything, the more you do something, the better you will get at it. But on Monday, I saw a Kickstarter project that will make this easier for aspiring Dungeon Masters.

Introducing Roll & Play: The Game Master’s Tabletop Toolkit.

Sam Bartlett is putting together a small A5 sized book that will help any level of GM with some guidelines to help any adventure.

It’s important to note that these aren’t rule supplements or premade adventure components. It’s various bits and pieces that can guide a GM in those moments your party takes you off track.

Stealing Rewards
Players randomly stealing/killing NPCs? Small rewards are available with one die roll!

A random person just got pickpocketed? Roll a d20 and see what they got! The list is in gold pieces, but you aren’t limited to that. You can change the items to fit your world.

A bag of gems worth 100 gold doesn’t suit? What about a credit chit for 5,000 credits then. Or maybe a prepaid credit card with $1,000 available. Minor theme adjustments like this are a lot easier to make up on the spot than entire inventories for all the worlds characters!

It doesn’t stop there either. You can create quick NPCs including features, flaws and looks this way. Determine their motives. Discover some NPC traits. This will get players further into a gameplay session quickly, and you can then use this skeleton to flesh out the NPC later between games if required.

There are also encounter ideas and world-building sections to help you along. The campaign doesn’t show examples of these yet, but with luck, that will change as the campaign progresses.

Critical Tables
It's not just lookups though. There are little hints for running campaigns littered throughout.

So I can just use Roll & Play as an improv campaign generator?

I wouldn’t. Not completely anyway. Use Roll & Play to help plan your campaign, sure. Just don’t run the whole thing this way.

Preparing your campaign is still a valuable skill, and essential to excellent overall player experiences. But Roll & Play will help you keep a game session going when your party takes you off your planned route. And they will.

Players will always go into places and areas you never thought of as well as focusing on talking anyone BUT the character you want them to. Every GM can tell you that.

Are you backing Roll & Play?

I am, but only at the eBook level. The idea behind the book is great, but the Aussie dollar compared to the Pound is pretty low at the moment.

While I have had folders full of this type of information in the past, this is no longer the case. Moves, forced culling and time have meant that most of my prepared items exist somewhere in the back of my head. While rusty, I still have my experience to fall back on. The eBook will be handy for the occasional lookup and inspiration.

With shipping, the Roll & Play physical edition will come close to AUD$50. If you are new to running campaigns, the cost of the physical book with its layout is a good buy. Not only can games keep going when something unexpected comes up, but it gives you some firm ideas to build from later.

The $50 will be a small price to pay compared to the feeling of having to cut games short to ‘fix’ your world between sessions. It will also help your players have a much better time, and make between session tweaking much more manageable.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign here for more info.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Pulp Invasion is live now on Kickstarter

Solo gamers take note – the follow up to Pulp Detective is live now on Kickstarter. And it’s probably not what you were expecting!

There are a few games that break out of this mould though. For example, One Deck Dungeon is a favourite of mine. It straddles the bookkeeping and gameplay aspects very well. Another that I have meant to get into based on Alpal’s feedback is Pulp Detective.

It looks like I might have pull my finger out though. This morning, I backed the second in the Pulp series – Pulp Invasion!

Pulp Invasion Captains
Taking covers of old magazines and bringing all those stories into one adventure

So what is a Pulp game?

First off, if you are familiar with Pulp Detective, don’t let that sway you. Not because Pulp Detective is a bad game, Pulp Invasion is just a very different game.

The hallmark of the Pulp series is the artwork. All of the art is covers used in the old Pulp Fiction style magazines. This makes for a very distinctive art style, and also matches the theme of the game well.

Pulp Invasion Card Art Material
All the rights to use the art is sorted, so it gives that great retro and 'pulp' feel

So it’s a space trading game? There are a lot of those already.

On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss Pulp Invasion as a solo trading game. But how would that fit in with an old pulp science fiction story?

No, your characters really an agent of the Intergalactic Council. Your real goal – find the superweapons of the Red Hegemony and stop their invasion plans!

This is done by encountering different aliens and situations (card draw) and use your skills in Science, Combat and Diplomacy to accomplish your goals.

Think you can crack the code to play? Pulp Invasion comes with 6 different captains, so you can try different strategies playing to their individual strengths.

You can see all of the rules for the game here.

I don’t really want games that I just play by myself.

Solo gaming is a niche. Sometimes you want to play a game, and don’t have another player handy. Pulp Invasion has you covered though if you regularly have another player though. This time, you can play competitively with someone else.

So it’s pretty in a retro way, but I don’t know if I will like it.

That’s always a danger. Even with the relatively low cost of Pulp Invasion, if you don’t think it will be fun, you still don’t want to buy it.

Do you have Tabletopia? If so, you are in luck! Pulp Invasion has been made available on the digital tabletop platform. All you need to do is go here to try it out!

Pulp Invasion Tabletopia
If you have Tabletopia, you can give the solo game a try before pledging

All I can tell you apart from that is I am excited, and I have my pledge in for Pulp Invasion and the X1 expansion.

For more information, check out the Kickstarter page and have a look for yourself. There will be some more impressions on the game coming soon.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD.

Van Ryder Games new solo game Final Girl now on Kickstarter

Final Girl Cover

The theme might not be for everyone, but the system is Hostage Negotiator system is sound and improved!

I have spoken about Hostage Negotiator a few times. I am still awaiting Hostage Negotiator: Career, but as is everyone with all that has been happening.

If you haven’t read my musings on Hostage Negotiator, it’s a solo hand management game where you are at the mercy of dice rolls. There are different Abductors you can expand the core game with, each with different objectives and triggers. Skill tests are made with two dice, and conversation cards let you try and talk down the Abductor to release Hostages.

And I know that a lot of people have already tuned out. This is a pity because Hostage Negotiator is an enjoyable puzzle that the random nature of dice rolls makes eminently replayable.

Why am I droning on about Hostage Negotiator? Because yesterday the second game to use the system has launched on Kickstarter – Final Girl.

Final Girl Kickstarter
If you don't like horror films, this game won't change your mind

Why would I be interested in Final Girl?

Final Girl won’t be for everyone. This time, I think the theme will either make or break it for most. Now, you play scenarios that are heavily inspired by horror movies.

You get a stereotypical ‘killer’ and a location. These can be mixed and matched for variety. The location is the first significant deviation from the traditional Hostage Negotiator formula.

Final Girl Scenarios
The inspiration is pretty obvious, even for non-horror fans

You then select your Final Girl – this is the character that will have the big showdown with the big bad. In true horror movie fashion, your last health has the potential to be an adrenaline rush, giving you one more chance to win.

Hostages are replaced by Victims in Final Girl. These victims are positioned around the location, and you must weigh up saving victims or letting the killer do their thing.

Umm, OK. That doesn’t sound very interesting.

This is a problem with the game system. Until you play a round or two, it’s hard to talk about the feeling the system elicits in you.

Each round, you need to try and save up enough to buy cards for the next round. These cards will let you move, fight, alter dice rolls – there are a lot of choices. There is also the luck factor – if you fail checks, your turn can end immediately, making future turns harder.

The luck mitigation in Hostage Negotiator was brutal. You could sacrifice two cards from your hand to create success but at the cost of other abilities that turn.

Hostage Negotiator App Screenshot 14
Winning in Hostage Negotiator takes a lot of patience and luck

Hostage Negotiator has crushed me and elated me because of a die roll. You now have more chances to convert cards into success, but this only makes me more curious as to what extra obstacles I will have to encounter.

This still doesn’t sound that interesting.

Me just writing about it doesn’t help. As you know, I am currently starting the path to update site content. Right now I can’t play a round of Hostage Negotiator to show you what the game is like to play.

Luckily, some others have had the chance to play with the prototype of Final Girl. Hopefully, they will be able to show you better than I can describe it!

If you want to try the original game, grab it on Android or iOS. The graphics aren’t great, but the mechanics are very faithful to the source. This is the best way to find out if these sorts of games are for you.

And you will want to know if it is for you, because of the price…

Wait, it’s how much?

Yep. Van Ryder Games come at a premium, and it’s harder to justify that cost compared to games like Frosthaven based purely on components.

It really depends on the sort of gaming you do. If you are a solo player, you will have literally hours of fun with Final Girl. I know I have close to two hundred hours of Hostage Negotiator under my belt. And that is without touching half of the extra abductor packs I have to extend it even further!

I have gone all-in and flipping up on getting the 3D minis as well. Meeples work well, but it’s only a little extra. I will sleep on it. Comparing the cost to Frosthaven is fair, but so is the number of playable hours you can get from the game.

But if you have made it this far, give Final Girl a look over on Kickstarter. I have yet to have a Van Ryder Game fail me in terms of immersion and value for money!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Draconic Dice Crypt Preview

Sometimes you want something in front of you that screams ‘Bring it On!’

I know I have been a bit quiet on the Kickstarter front recently. Partly, this has been because of time and not backing at my usual pace. It has been because all the big projects are getting plenty of press.

Joel from PrintableNerdGear.com got in touch with me recently about his new project. It won’t be for everyone, but for the creative hands-on player, this is a project that has fantastic potential.

Introducing the Draconic Dice Crypt.

If you use this, you are declaring the world yours before you begin

Need no further information? Check out PrintableNerdGear.com and the Kickstarter project here.

Wow, what is that? Wait – it’s a dice-box?

On the surface – yep. You can store your die and miniature in this table talking piece. Oh, and drinks while you are playing. But can you imagine the look on your players’ faces as you set this on the table?

“We have to face what? What is that? Can I cast a spell yet?” The questions come at you fast and quickly as they frantically try and brace for some upcoming boss battle.

“What? This? It’s just my dice box. No big deal.” You say as you continue nonchalantly setting up. Or imagine your new gaming groups faces as you pull out your ‘kit’.

Or maybe you are a Magic: The Gathering player? There will be options to make the Draconic Dice Crypt usable in Magic as well.

Any way you use it, the Draconic Dice Crypt will undoubtedly command attention on the table, and deservedly so.

Looking into the open Crypt. That's right - that's the inside you can see!

But it’s a dice-box. So it’s just a box that holds my dice? What makes it so unique?

Well, apart from the look, the Draconic Dice Crypt is more than an ordinary dice box. There are several sections that you can choose to use for more dice storage, miniature protection, even (if a stretch goal is unlocked) a dice tower that comes from the middle and twists together.

This isn’t just a dice box. To think of it that way is to assume a Ferrari is just a car. What is for sale is an amazingly well-designed game storage system that will be uniquely yours.

There are a lot of storage systems that promise ‘unique’ options for each customer, but you pick from a handful of predefined choices. The Draconic Dice Crypt looks to live up to the promise though. How? Well, it’s a massive model you will need to make yourself. 

Make it yourself?

Just in the same way each mini you paint is yours, the same applies to the Draconic Dice Crypt. It’s more than paint scheme though. You will make the Crypt yourself with a 3D printer. So you can choose your materials and create it all from scratch!

So what am I making?

The body itself quite roomy, and the design includes holes for rare earth magnets (easily buyable from Amazon or the like) to keep the lid secured.

The Draconic Dice Crypt then has four main parts – Lid, Top Insert, Bottom Insert and Bottom Dice Tray insert. Each section will have multiple designs that are going to unlocked during the Kickstarter campaign.

When you back the project, you will be able to print the sections you want as you will receive the files for all unlocked designs. If you wanted to make a few different Draconic Dice Crypts you can whenever you want!

I know I am talking around the Crypt itself, but because it will be personal to you it’s hard to describe why I find it so amazing. Check out the promotional Kickstarter video to see the Crypt in action – images speak louder than words!

It's a couple of days from Live, but look at the insert for the top!

It looks amazing! How much is it?

For Kickstarter backers, the Draconic Dice Crypt will be USD$15. Post the campaign, the cost will be USD$30 and will not have all the same designs, so this is a fantastic deal!

When you look at the project, you will also see a USD$350 option. Before you jam that back now button though, be advised this is for a Commercial license of the Dice Crypt. Only people that will be making these and selling them will need to look at this option; most people will only need the $15 tier for their prints.

So what do I need to make the Draconic Dice Crypt?

Only a 3D printer and patience. Probably best with a mid-tier printer though, you will need one that can take a moderately large print job. My old UP! Mini wouldn’t cut it in one print for example.

The main issue is the size of the body print. You will need a printer that can comfortably print a 7″ x 7″ x 5.1″ (180mm x 180mm x 130mm) print job. This isn’t an issue for the more upscale home printers (e.g. the UP!300), but the sub AUD$1,000 printers probably won’t cut it in one go.

That’s not to say that you can’t make it though – you will need to print the base in multiple parts and glue it together.

Then, of course, to complete the look you will need to paint your creation! Once the project is over, Printable Nerd Gear will be showing off some projects submitted by customers with the #PrintableNerdGear tag. I can’t wait to see what people make of this. I love what people can do already with minis, and this can lead to work of beauty!

That sounds like a lot of work!

Yes, it does. And it won’t be easy on materials either. Joel said that he used about 530 grams of plastic just for the body. Hence my earlier comment about this project not being for everyone.

If you would like someone to make it for you, there are options. I completely forgot to ask Joel about sending the personal file off to a 3D printing service. Still, I would assume this would be within the personal license (especially with a reputable 3D printing service), but I will be asking the question to make sure.

There is also the option of asking backers with Commercial licenses (general questions on the project) for contact details. People that buy this license will be looking for customers so that you could order the build. The cost would cover time and materials, of course, but it would still be a lot cheaper than buying a 3D Printer!

It's a couple of days from Live, but look at the insert for the top!

Will you be backing this?

Probably? It’s an amazing project. My 3D printer is out of action, but that’s not a major hurdle for me.

Full disclosure, I was offered a copy of the unlocked files. I declined because this is the type of project that I love to share, and would have written about in any case.

I honestly want one of these crypts, but I haven’t printed (or painted!) anything in a few years. I am already time-poor, but even if I didn’t use it for games, it would be a fantastic display piece.

For the cost, I think backing the Draconic Dice Crypt will be worth it. Half the final price, all of the options, and I can look into printing and painting when I am ready.

When does the Kickstarter happen?

When else would you start a project based on killing a dragon to hold your dice? HALLOWEEN! 6 pm Eastern for our US friends to be exact. About 10 am on 1/11/2019 AEST, or 9 am for those of us without daylight savings.

You don’t have to wait to check it all out though. You can go to PrintableNerdGear.com and check it all out (and sign up for notification emails), go to the Kickstarter project here.

Have a great week!

JohnHQLD.
This is something awesome to behold. Make sure to check out the Kickstarter!

Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies live on Kickstarter

Introducing Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies – because Tiny Epic Galaxies is just too big!

My last ‘Oh OK why not’ pledge Kickstarter for August is Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies from Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games.

The Tiny Epic series has a lot of hits and misses depending on who you ask. Tiny Epic Galaxies is my favourite to date, but I still need to play some of them so that may not be entirely true.

One aspect I like about the series is most of them can be played either solo, cooperatively or competitively. For a lot of gamers, this can be a negative as a project that tries to be everything to everyone rarely succeeds. That has certainly been the case for some of the series.

For me, I enjoy that I can play a solo game or five and get a feel for the game, without having to play as extra players. It’s also fun playing a solo game and having it turn into a multiplayer expeirence.

Tiny Epic Galaxies has been a lot of fun on a few business trips. I have been able to play a solo game in the lounge, and switch to a ‘full’ game as people came to see what I was doing.

Anyone that knows the game already knows everything happening here

The Beyond the Black expansion became a hindrance to this though. Gamelyn Games has the theory that Beyond the Black is a standalone game and deserves its box. It also comes with a sleeve to keep the two games together.

The two games combined create a reasonably solid brick that isn’t as easy to travel with. Sure, in a suitcase it would be easy to pack around, but in a backpack full of other stuff? Not so much.

Because of this I haven’t been carrying it or playing it as much as I used to.

One of these in a side pocket of my backpack will be a lot easier to leave in my bag

So when I saw that Gamelyn was recreating the shrinking experience of Ultra-Tiny Epic Kingdoms with Galaxies, I was excited. Now I can have a travel game about the size of a standard poker deck, while still keeping a 1-5 player game on the move.

And the pricing isn’t bad either – about AUD$18 for Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies or AUD$29 for both Galaxies and Kingdoms! So I went for the latter, as I haven’t played Kingdoms in years.

If you have always been curious about the Tiny Epic games, this is a good price point for a lot of content. Especially as Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies also comes with the Satellites and Superweapons expansion included! Or you may be like me, where the original just became a bit too much to throw in your bag when travelling.

If you don’t know about the game, check out the wealth of reviews and content already on the internet. Tiny Epic Galaxies was even on Tabletop, with Tim Schafer playing! Don’t know the name? He designed or was involved with some of my favourite adventure games such as Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts and Day of the Tentacle.

I am a little curious how my monkey hands will go with the mini sized cards, but it should be fine

Or even easier – watch the game with the video below!

Whatever your interest in the game, this is an incredibly short Kickstarter run, with about four days left of the project.

Check out the Kickstarter here for more information.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Teburu – the future of gaming, or a niche assistance?

If you don’t like apps in your games, Teburu is going to make you really mad

Gaming apps. A phrase that some gamers want to love, and some love to hate.

I quite like some apps. Chronicles of Crime and Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game are excellent examples of games that include gameplay not possible with digital assistance.

But that is the keyword – assistance. If I want to play a video game, I will play a video game. Some apps mean well, but add very little to the experience. The whole thing is very hit and miss.

One of the first digital apps I tried to embrace was the Zombicide Companion App. People were enjoying the game, but a few had complaints about the amount of ‘little things’ they had to track with their characters. I was hoping that the companion app would help alleviate this. Spoiler alert – I was wrong.

As you still had to play wiht the cards physically, it was just doubling up on a lot of the admin

Some apps only try and help with one small facet of a game. For example, the 7 Wonders scoresheet app. And help it does. 7 Wonders scoring is almost a science unto itself when beginning to learn the game.

But there have been some great examples of apps that blur the line between tabletop and video games. Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, for example, made it possible for me actually to play as the player for a change. I did not always have to be ‘the bad guy’, which opened up a lot of new gameplay chances for me. In all of the games of Mansions of Madness I had played, I had never been a player character. Now thanks to the app, I can play Mansions by myself if I want!

I no longer have to spend an hour alone setting everything up thanks to the Mansions app

CMON and Xplored have taken the app ‘games master’ one step further. With the assistance of app integration, NFC and Bluetooth technology, the vision is you can play your game and have all of the admin done for you.

Introducing Teburu, the tabletop gaming console that CMON and Xplored hope ushers in a new age for tabletop gamers.

On the surface, I love the idea. The idea itself is far from new. Years ago, when the Microsoft Surface was still a tabletop computer concept design, developers showed off the possibility of playing Dungeons and Dragons with the tabletop being an interactive map that recognised your miniatures.

Teburu doesn’t seem to be going quite so far, but the basics are all there. You have an app on your phone with your characters information such as stats, inventory, etc. A central app keeps track of all other aspects of gameplay – enemy positions, line of sight rules, objectives, everything.

One advantage Teburu has over a lot of concepts I have seen are physical dice you roll and don’t have to tell the app the results. It might not sound like much, but having to stop to type in your rolls all the time sucks. Now, I am a little worried about the dice needing a charge halfway through a game, but that is a small price to pay.

The mat becomes a large sensor so that it knows the position and orientation of your pieces

There are a lot of games that can benefit from this type of system, and CMON makes a lot of them. Dungeon Crawlers is a genre that suffers from a lot of admin minutiae that stops you just having fun. Having something that takes care of all that math is appealing for a lot of players.

I am a little torn of the existence of Teburu. On the one hand, I admire the tech and passion involved in its design. It also allows for more social gaming, as you are still playing a physical game with your friends. Because the app takes care of the rules, ‘House Rule’ arguments and the like will be minimised as well.

I am hoping that this concept is successful, but I also hope that this technology will be available to other companies as well. Fantasy Flight could expand its existing app game lineup with the Teburu expansions, for example. Other games, like Betrayal at House on the Hill, would be so much easier for new players. The Betrayer would have their information and can see hidden rules on their phone, and the whole ‘What does this mean’ argument becomes invalid immediately as the app won’t let them make illegal moves.

Another thing I will be wary on is how fragile the system will be. Not in use, but storing and unfolding the base over and over.

Of course, this is probably going to cost a pretty penny. While described as a console that other games work with, the initial cost will likely be reasonably steep. If you aren’t a fan of CMON games in general or only really love one of their games, the investment may be too much.

I am still waiting to hear some feedback after the Teburu being shown at Gen Con 2019 with the new Zombicide, but I will be following the development news closely.

There have been hints and teases of other compatible games, such as the upcoming Project: Elite and even the newly revealed Ankh. I expect a lot of this information to continue to firm up before the Teburu Kickstarter alongside Zombicide Evolution – Las Vegas next year.

What about you? Do you like the idea of game apps in general? Do you like the idea of the Teburu, or do you think it’s going too far? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Can you unlock the secrets of Crypt X?

If the professor just used find my friends, we wouldn’t have as much fun!

So jumping on to Kickstarter for the first time in a while, a new project came up on the games page for me.

That game is Crypt X, and I have backed another narrative puzzle to draw me in.

Short version – decipher the clues to find the missing archaeologist.

The better introduction is from their Kickstarter video:

The idea of a puzzle based narrative isn’t new these days, but as a genre, there are many different implementations which make things so exciting for me.

Using an app (Android and iOS), you can solve over 50 puzzles to get discover the location of the missing archaeologist.

It is these kinds of game that app integration/hybridisation makes the most sense to me. Yes, you can have a book of text like Sherlock Holmes, but that leaves a lot to interpretation and correct printing. Even in ideal circumstances, that is a lot of text to search and read through.

Stuck? Get the next hint without seeing anything you shouldn’t. Does error or important information need to be updated in the puzzle? As long as your app is up to date, all this should be easily dealt with.

I am still looking forward to getting started on my Enigma Box, but that is also part of the problem – getting started. Now that I have moved and things are settling nicely, that’s not as much of a problem.

The Enigma Box had a fairly high entry price though. Yes, you get a lot for your money, but if you are just curious it was a pretty steep price.

Designer Rose Atkinson working on early prototype **Image from Crytp X Board Game Geek Page

Crypt X looks to be a challenging time, which could lead to quite a lot of fun! But it also looks quite bite-sized, great for people just getting into the genre.

But how will I know if I will like it?

One of the things I really like is even before the game is released, there are already samples of the kinds of puzzles you can expect.

On the Kickstarter page, there is a link to an Android app (sorry iOS users) that uses finished artwork from the game, but different puzzles so it’s a great time to experiment and see how you will go!

But wait, that’s not the only puzzle!

Hidden within the promo video, the campaign page itself and updates there are clues for a 4 digit code.

Crack the code and enter on their webpage (which isn’t up yet!) and you can win a swag of puzzle goodies that helped inspire the game!

The project ends Friday, July 19th at 9 am (AEST), so check out the Kickstarter page and/or the Board Game Geek page, and see what you think!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD