Posts tagged Fantasy Flight Games

Arkham Nights 2012

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I’m taking a bit of a sidetrack from the blog exchange with Andy at Scrolls of the Platinum Warlock. Check out my account of being a player in one his games here! Next week you’ll get to hear from a player’s perspective what it’s like to play in one of my games!

 

This past weekend, I attended Arkham Nights, a three-day gaming convention held by Fantasy Flight Games for their board games inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. For those of you not familiar with him, H.P. Lovecraft was one of the early horror writers who wrote about “things man was not meant to know” and the slow drive to insanity of the people who encountered them.

By the way, Lovecraft first wrote about the fictional town of Arkham, MA in 1936, long before anybody thought about putting the Batman villains in Arkham Asylum!

Over the years, Fantasy Flight Games, known for their high production values (and rather expensive board games) developed several games set in the Call of Cthulhu mythos (thus named after one of Lovecraft’s most famous works: The Call of Cthluhu). Currently, they have Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Elder Sign, and Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. Generally, these board games are based around working cooperatively to hold back the horrors, but trying not to have your character go insane or be killed in the process.

Arkham Horror is perhaps my all time favorite board game, due to its near infinite replayability and its cooperative nature, so of course I decided to go to this convention! Plenty of other gamers were just as excited and some came from states away to come to play these games. Lucky for me, it was held at the Fantasy Flight Game Center in Roseville, MN a mere 15 minutes away from my house!

Fantasy Flight brought their A game to create a professional event!

Part of the registration fee went towards some awesome swag! Because I didn’t preregister, I missed out on green shirt with white tentacles on it, but I did get a swag bag of promotional gameplay components for Arkham Horror (a new Ancient One card for Yig, the Father of Serpents) and Elder Sign (a new Shub-Niggurath card) as well as a dice bag and some printed art. It doesn’t seem like Fantasy Flight intends to ever release this or any of the other promo cards to the public, but fortunately there’s a fan who’s been recreating all of the promo stuff for Arkham Horror at least and making them available to download here (and Yig has just been added).

I started off with a game of Mansions of Madness being the Keeper (basically controlling all the bad guys against four players working cooperatively). We played a new scenario from The Yellow Sign expansion and I got to play a bunch of cultists living out the King in Yellow (a play which, when performed, drives everyone insane in the third act) with the investigators as hapless participants. We had a lot of fun and a very close game. Eventually though, I won defeating the four investigators before they could burn the play’s script.

My players for Mansions of Madness. They’re smiling because they think they’re winning!

After that, I played in a game of Arkham Horror for the Arkham League. Basically, it’s a series of scenarios that are majorly stacked against the players. Defeat is all but guaranteed and your goal is basically to do as well as you can before you lose and then a score is calculated. For the first scenario, here were the special rules:

  • Only certain investigators were available, and they tended to be the weak ones
  • No clue tokens start on the board
  • No investigators start with any clues. Instead they gain $1 per clue, but…
  • Ye Olde Magick Shoppe and The Curiosite Shoppe are closed for the game (so your money is pretty much useless)
  • Cultists have the Endless ability and move on black arrows every Mythos phase unless they are engaged with an investigator

In addition, we were facing the new promo Yig. Every time a gate appears, you make a Sneak check at +2 minus the number of open gates. If you fail, you are Cursed. I’m told this was the easiest of the three scenarios!

First round, three out of four people got Cursed and things didn’t improve much from there. First round we got a rumor where we had to have someone go to a location and give up a Skill and a Blessing within a certain number of rounds or else all three monster rifts (from the Kingsport expansion) got unleashed. Needless to say with all of us being Cursed, we weren’t getting Blessed any time soon and we failed the mission, unleashing hordes of monsters onto the streets of Arkham.

After that, we had two monster surges with them emptying the outskirts twice, resulting in the terror track and the doom track skyrocketing up. We did managed to close (but not seal) two gates before Yig appeared. Unfortunately, anybody who is Cursed when he shows up is Devoured, so we all died (had anybody survived, they would have become Cursed). We totally got it handed to us, but that’s half the fun of Arkham Horror. After that, I played a standard game of Arkham Horror (what? there are clue tokens on the board?) in which we were actually doing alright!

The next day, I came back to play in an event called “Barricades,” in which all eight expansion packs of Arkham Horror were used! This resulted in a massive game and we wound up playing eight investigators between five players. Things were a little rough at first, but we wound up holding our own pretty well. And we even had Richard Launius, creator of Arkham Horror, stop by to chat with us and see how we were doing! Not long after we won! All in all, it was a really enjoyable game.

Our massive game of Arkham Horror with all eight expansions! Richard Launius (in yellow), creator of the game, stopped by to chat with us!

I finished up the convention with a game of Fiasco set in the Call of Cthulhu mythos. If you didn’t have a WTF moment, let me enlighten you: Call of Cthluhu is a psychological, grim game where characters are fighting back against an inevitable fate. Fiasco, by Bully Pulpit Games, is a freeform roleplaying game that advertises itself as “A game of powerful ambition & poor impulse control” and it winds up being incredibly chaotic and slapstick. Big genre clash! And that’s what made it awesome!

In Fiasco, characters have relationships and motivations with each other on the table. We had a teenager who joined a cult as an emo act of rebellion against his father, who shared the same name as a police officer, who worked with my character to get rich through a bit of murder, who participated in some illicit activities with a cultist, who was bitter rivals with the first cultist.

Things quickly got way out of control with multiple people getting whacked on the head with shovels, my character revealing he was a Deep One and launching an invasion or Arkham, one of the characters getting possessed by Hastur, and everyone getting rounded up into a cult meeting in which a crate of dynamite went off. Luckily my character walked way from the whole deal completely unscathed, but the wig he wore became fused onto his reptilian Deep One skull. We spent so much time laughing at the ridiculous situation we were developing that we didn’t care about how confusing it was turning out!

Finally, I ended my convention with one more game of Arkham Horror. We had to pack up before we were finished, but things were looking really well for us so I’ll call it a win.

All in all, Arkham Nights was a fantastic event! If anybody is around the Twin Cities area next year, I highly recommend they come!

Fantasy Flight Games Event Center

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This week, I’m going to be talking about a little known secret, even here in the Twin Cities. Turns out that Fantasy Flight Games, creators of board games like Arkham Horror and A Game of Thrones as well as roleplaying games like Deathwatch and the new Star Wars: Edge of the Empire have the Fantasy Flight Event Center in Roseville, MN. It’s about 15 minutes from my house and 5 minutes from the Roseville Public Library where I go every Wednesday as part of my AmeriCorps service. And let me tell you, it’s awesome!

As the name implies, there are two parts to the location:

Fantasy Flight Games…

The Fantasy Flight Games Event Center’s main purpose is to provide an outlet where Fantasy Flight’s games can be sold. Of course, Source Comics and Games (described here) has all of these games and more, but I imagine Fantasy Flight prefers to have a direct outlet so they can make a bigger profit. Fortunately, this means that games at this location are discounted (15% off for members only) as are preorders (10% for nonmembers, 20% off for members). There are games from other companies as well there, especially if they are products for the same universe as some of Fantasy Flight’s products (e.g. Cubicle 7’s The One Ring roleplaying game was next to their Lord of the Rings Living Card Game).

You can also check out games there to play ($3, free with a membership) or even rent a Warhammer army ($5, free with membership). Membership is a bit steep, especially if you’re on an AmeriCorps living stipend like me, ($20 one month, $50 three months, $75 six months, $125 one year), but if you are a heavy gamer who buys lots of Fantasy Flight products, I could see it easily paying for itself.

…Event Center

Some gamers play Star Wars: X-Wing using a fan-made Death Star trench run map!

In addition to being a store, the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center is a location where people can play games. There are about fifteen open gaming tables tables set up on the main floor and another five on the upper mezzanine (a quieter, more secluded area, but for members only). While I was there, I saw several minis, roleplaying, and board games being played. The staff lets you play whatever you want and said I’d be more than welcome to run my weekly Deadlands game there (we had our first session on Wednesday and it was a lot of fun!).

These gamers were doing a HeroClix tournament between themselves. The player on the far left was really excited to get a chance to pull out his giant Clix!

The Fantasy Flight Games Event Center also hosts special events from time to time. Next weekend is Arkham Nights, a three day event devoted to H.P. Lovecraft and the games inspired by his works. Not only will there be sessions for board games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Elder Sign (with special promo cards as swag), but also a Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game tournament, a costume contest, and even a Cthulhu-themed Fiasco game. Plus the game designers for these games will be there. The only downside is that the event costs $20 to attend, which as said before, can be tough if you’re on a budget.

All in all, the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center is an awesome place. It’s a great place to host your weekly game (they even stay open till midnight on weeknights) or have a pickup game with some friends. If you’ve got a disposable income and can afford to be an avid Fantasy Flight gamer, there’s lots of great events and discounts that you can take advantage of. If you’re ever in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend visiting it!

The view from up on the mezzanine. Pictures like this often wind up in the promotional material because it makes the location look HUGE!

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

GenCon 2012 Experience

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This past weekend, I went to GenCon, the largest gaming convention in America. Although I went largely to promote Wild Card Creator, this was also a great opportunity to do some personal gaming.

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

The box set featuring Matt Smith made it’s release at GenCon, but I think I’ll always be attached to my David Tennant box set.

Saturday I arrived in the Dealer Hall when it opened and got a quick look at the place. Boy is it massive! I only got to visit a few booths before I had to go off to run Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. Just like last year, I volunteered for Cubicle 7’s Demo Team which gave me a great opportunity to run one of my favorite systems and get some store credit while I was at it.

The scenario they gave me was called “Ghost Engines” and was actually a pretty decent scenario involving body-swapping aliens, gargoyle-like people, and a trans-dimensional train. It was a pretty enjoyable scenario that kept everyone engaged. I have to say that the writing quality for premade adventures for the line have improved markedly over the years. Maybe one of these days I’ll throw my hat into the ring too and write up a scenario to submit to Cubicle 7.

It’s become a tradition at the larger cons for Pinnacle to run a Savage Saturday Night event where dozens of Savage Worlds games are run. The turnout for GenCon was unprecedented and I would estimate that at least 50 games were run, all with full tables! I handed out as many cards for Wild Card Creator as I could, then got roped into a Gilligan’s Island game. As hard as it is to believe, I’ve never seen the show, but I was told that all I really needed to do was hear the theme song and I’d be good.

We played a somewhat modified crew of the original five on the ship. I wound up being the millionaire’s cousin; an Olympic athlete. It’s not every day that your Savage Worlds character gets to wield a javelin and a discus! Not long after we crashed, we fought a boar. Feeling overconfident, I decided to throw my Olympic javelin at it with a called shot to the eye (–6)…and made it! The boar was instantly killed by the assault and we had a tasty meal.

Unfortunately, Gill went missing and we had to go look for him. Turns out that he found himself in some Mayan ruins and put on a headdress that turned him into an ancient Mayan sorcerer king that could summon mummies! After half an hour of whiffs from both sides, we finally managed to get the stupid headdress off of him, patch up the ship, and complete our three hour tour.

Sunday was devoted entirely to roaming the Dealer Hall and it took a good six hours to do so, including stopping to play a few demos. I wound up picking up the new Doctor Who Card Game, The One Ring: Tales of Wilderland, five Paranoia supplements for a buck each, the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game, and $3 used book describing all of the original worlds of Torg (one of the most inspiring settings of all time in my opinion). Not a bad haul.

I also got a chance to watch a demo of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, the first of three role-playing games for Star Wars. Fantasy Flight Games has elected to follow their Warhammer 40k RPG model and release multiple rulebooks each focusing on a different aspect of the universe. Edge of the Empire focuses on bounty hunters, smugglers, and scoundrels while the upcoming Rebellion vs. Empire and Force and Destiny books will focus on soldiers and Jedi respectively. The rules are cross-compatible so you can mix characters from any of the books. They also use specialty “narrative dice” like Warhammer Fantasy 3rd edtion. Although the beta rules were available for purchase, I ultimately decided to save my $30 for when the real thing comes out.

I was surprised to see just how many companies were running Kickstarters; I saw no less than 15. While I imagine there are a greater number of RPG-related Kickstarters around the time of GenCon than at other times of the year, it was surprising just how important that crowdfunding platform is in the roleplaying game industry (or if you’re cynical, how glutted it is).

And at the end of the day, I got to visit the booth for Mythic Era of War Games, the company founded by one of Wittenberg’s own alumni (no website yet, so I can’t link to their stuff). Perhaps next year Journeyman Games will have its own booth as well.

All in all, it was a great trip and I’m glad that I got to go. If you ever get a chance to visit, even if it’s just for a day, take the opportunity!

Predictions About a New Star Wars RPG

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First off, I apologize for the delay in posting. Now that university is in full swing, I’ve had less time to write for this blog. In the future, you can expect at least one post each week (which may be standardized to a certain day of the week). Thanks for reading and sorry about the delay!

Earlier in the summer, Fantasy Flight Games announced that they had purchased the license to Star Wars card, role-playing, and miniatures games. Furthermore, they already had two games in the works: X-wing, a tactical minis game, and Star Wars: The Card Game, a cooperative card game. No word yet on a role-playing game.

First off, I have to say that I’m really intrigued by this announcement. I’m a huge Star Wars fan ever since I was a kid and saw the Special Edition of A New Hope in theaters with my dad. I’ve bought my share of the figures and Legos, played some of the board games, played most of the computer games, tried the trading card game, read many of the books (got Heir to the Empire signed by Timothy Zahn at Origins!), and even got a chance to talk to the guy who played Chewbacca (also at Origins a few years ago). Fun fact: according to him, Chewbacca didn’t get a medal for destroying the Death Star because Carrie Fisher wasn’t tall enough to give him one.

I have no doubt that they will eventually create a new Star Wars RPG, but I’m wondering a bit about what it will look like and I’ve been wanting to speculate about that on my blog. So far, Fantasy Flight Games has published the Warhammer 40k Roleplay line (consisting of Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Death Watch, and Black Crusade), Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition, and a few other minor role-playing games. They are all fairly generic RPGs with a percentile systems and self-contained books, except for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. That one actually comes in a box set with color character sheets, several decks of cards for things like combat maneuvers, standup cardboard character figures, lots of little tokens and chips, and even a special set of dice. It’s all very beautiful and it’s nifty, but it’s also a bit expensive at nearly $100 (although one box gives everything that an entire group needs to have to play).

My prediction is that Fantasy Flight Games will make their Star Wars RPG similar to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition (henceforth abbreviated as WFRP3). Here are my predictions about what the final Star Wars RPG will look like when  it is released.

  • It will have similar production quality to WFRP3. There will be color cards and lots of new art depicting exciting things in the Star Wars universe.
  • It will come in a box set like WFRP3. This will have the added draw of encouraging Star Wars fans to try a role-playing game if it’s all self contained like a board game.
  • It will have fewer cards for combat maneuvers than WFRP3 (which included things like Shield Bash, Twin Shot, etc.). That’s less important in Star Wars where you’re just interested in shooting your blaster at the Stormtrooper or swinging your lightsaber.
  • There will however still be cards for basic combat maneuvers. There will be cards for things like shooting, brawling, dodging, and other basic things.
  • Jedi will definitely have combat cards. Things like lightsaber blaster bolt deflection, force powers, and other things will have cards to help players more easily keep track of things.
  • It will use a career system like WFRP3. In that system, your character could transition from a thug to a tomb raider to a soldier. This fits for Star Wars where we have a farm boy turn into a pilot who then turns into a Jedi.

A career system like this would work out rather well for Star Wars. This Thug could easily be a Bounty Hunter, for instance.

  • It will be set in the Galactic Civil War era. It’s the most recognizable era and it’s the same era that their two upcoming board games will be released in. I believe further supplements will allow for play in other eras with The Old Republic being the first era released (to coincide with the MMO coming out) and the Clone Wars being the next one since the TV show is still going on.
  • It will have special dice. The WFRP3 dice provide a unique way of describing the battle (e.g. he thrusts his sword and hits twice, but is fatigued by the effort). I think that would help work for the cinematic nature of Star Wars. It will be a different system of dice than the WFRP3 dice, but I predict that we will have something special like that.
  • The box set will be priced at $60. I estimate this since I’m guessing there will be about as many components as Arkham Horror, a very elaborate board game that is priced at $59.95. Thus the role-playing game will be within the price point of the same people who buy their elaborate board games. Moreover, it will be less than WFRP3 because Warhammer fans are already spending a lot on armies and such, but a lower price point will be needed to pull in casual Star Wars fans.

Anyway, that’s my predictions for a Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games. When that does get released, I’d like to revisit these and see what things I predicted correctly. All in all, I’m eagerly awaiting it and I’m cautiously optimistic that they will do a good job with it.

GenCon 2011 Experience

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I had a great time at GenCon 2011 this year. Unlike Origins, I only went for the weekend, but enjoyed it nonetheless. My time was divided between running Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space for Cubicle 7 and touring the vendor hall at the exhibit.

Running Doctor Who was an interesting experience. I was given some prerelease materials including character sheets for the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy Pond, Rory Williams, and River Song. The current box set features the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companions, but Cubicle 7 is in the process of creating a new box set which has the same rules, but has art for the Eleventh Doctor era. I’m told that PDF character sheets from both eras will be available online once the new set is released.

I ran three sessions of the adventure “Cat’s Eye,” which will be released soon (probably as an adventure in the Matt Smith set). As I hinted in my last post, it involved hobos, aliens, and lots and lots of cats! The scenario only took about 2 hours, but since the players signed up for a 4 hour game, I ran a shortened version of “Sovereigns of the Sea,” my one-shot involving the TARDIS arriving on the Queen Anne’s Revenge and Blackbeard trying to find a treasure that, unbeknownst to him, belonged to aliens who didn’t take kindly to pirates.

All my games went well and I had a lot of fun with them. But my favorite one had to be the “Sovereigns of the Sea” part of the second session. The player who was playing The Doctor had to leave early, so we were left with River Song, Captain Jack Harkness, K-9, and Craig (that guy from the episode where the Doctor rented out a room in a house where the second story was actually an alien spaceship). None of the players wanted to take the Doctor, so we decided that River kicked the Doctor out of the TARDIS and took the companions on their own adventure!

River SongJack Harkness

There was so much great banter between River and Captain Jack in our games. They really need to meet!

Fully intending to go to the Caribbean beach (and leaving the TARDIS decked out in beach attire, complete with putting a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses on K-9), they arrived on the Queen Anne’s Revenge. When the pirates tried to make them walk the plank, River just led the group into the TARDIS and (knowing how to actually drive the thing) took it to the beach where they waited for the pirates to arrive. River told the dumbfounded pirates that she was a magical witch and proved it by “resurrecting” Jack when they shot him.

When the monsters started emerging from the sea, they all figured that since The Doctor wasn’t around, they could just shoot them willy nilly. Craig on the other hand had a shining moment of awesome as he grabbed a coconut, chucked it at the Sea Devils, and rolled 15 over the “Nearly Impossible” difficulty level, knocking out two of them and intimidating the third to drop its weapon! The pirates decided to flee, what with a witch, an immortal man, a mechanical machine, and “The Craiginator” on the shores!

Then detecting the Sea Devil’s hibernation pods inside the mountain, River decided they should all take a shortcut. So they hopped into the TARDIS to have it materialize where the hibernation pods were. Seeing the Sea Devils emerge, “The Craiginator” convinced them all that he was the Chief Warlord of Earth and that they should all go back into the hibernation pods instead of die trying to fight him. Another incredible roll and he actually managed to pull it off! With the aliens dealt with and the pirates gone, the companions decided to spend the rest of the time lounging on the Caribbean beach!

Going through the vendor hall, I got to pick up a preordered print copy of Savage Worlds Deluxe and had it signed by Shane Hensley and Clint Black. My Savage Worlds fanboyism definitely showed through there. I bought a few new nifty things as well, including The One Ring and the very strange Spam Dice Game.

Signatures inside Savage Worlds Deluxe

My signed copy of Savage Worlds Deluxe!

Spam Dice Game

Not sure that I'll play it very often, but it's definitely an interesting thing to have on your gaming shelf!

I also got to try prerelease demos of Fantasy Flight Games‘ new Star Wars Games: X-Wing and Star Wars: The Card Game, both to be released in Spring 2011. The first was a tactical minis game which pitted X-Wings versus TIE-Fighters. It was a lot of fun and in our demo the might of the Empire used superior tactics to crush the pathetic Rebellion! I asked if maybe it might be possible to do the Death Star trench run in the final game. The GM gave a huge smile and said, “Fantasy Flight Games is big on expansion packs.”

The second was a cooperative “Living Card Game.” Basically, several players with different Rebellion decks worked together to whittle down the non-player Empire deck. Unlike traditional trading card games, all the cards in a set are included in the expansion packs, so trading is not necessary and you don’t have to worry about commons, uncommons, and rares. It was pretty fun and I just might purchase the base set at least.

All in all, a good experience and I wouldn’t be opposed to going next year if things work out.

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