July 26, 2009

And Our New Champion Chooses...

Our VS System tourney on Friday had a new first-time winner: Congratulations to Vern and his formidable Inhumans! Those moon-dwellers are full of tricks... Ben came in second, piloting an Injustice Gang deck centering on Criminal Mastermind. Impressively he was able to set up four copies of it in his row on not one but two of his four matches.

As per the winner's decree our next tournament format will be Golden Age Open: Ban 5. Each player chooses 5 cards that they can ban for this event. If a card has been reprinted, banning one effectively bans all versions (such as Mobilize or Flying Kick). Post your ban-lists in the comments to this article. Selections must be entered by midnight on Sunday, August 2nd. Your ban list is void if you do not join us to play in the tournament.

July 23, 2009

Caution: Post contains high levels of nerdity

Hey again loyal readers. Er...I guess one begins to wonder if there are any such folks, but honestly it doesn't really matter much. This site is more for me than anything else, although I do heartily appreciate the comments by those of you who do stop by from time to time.

Ok so back to my ramblings. If you checked in earlier this week you may have seen my post about the Dark Heresy game we ran last weekend. During the course of this week I've been doing a lot more reading and thinking about role-playing games, genres, available books and all kinds of other related nerd-activities. *gasp* Yes, I used the n-word!

Thinking back on things, I think the first time I actually played an RPG would have been in grade 10 or 11. A friend of mine who had recently moved to town rounded up a few of us to play a game he went to special pains of describing as "not Dungeons and Drgaons". That game turned out to be "Dark Conspiracy". I don't remember much about the game or the play session except the cover of one of the novels he showed us. I do recall that we had a lot of fun and talked about playing again several times without ever actually doing so.

Going back even further this was not my first exposure to an RPG book. I had in fact bought one back in the summer of 1989 title simply "The Batman Roleplaying Game". I remember reading through the book a few times and simply not being able to figure out how this book could be considered a game. In my defence I'll simply say that I was only 11 or 12 years old at the time and the idea of a "game" outside of my Nintendo or something with a board just didn't make sense in my head.

Back in the present day, I realized that I have actually purchased a grand total of five RPG source books: Batman (which I have never played and am not sure of its location), Dark Matter (a book that uses the Alternity rules system), Deadlands Reloaded (it was just too cool looking to pass up on sale), Call of Cthulhu (purchased out of interest in the FFG Living Card Game) and of course, Dark Heresy.

Where am I going with this you ask? Well, after having played our Dark Heresy game to positive response, I think it may be possible to get a somewhat regular campaign of adventures going for that game. This in turn go me looking at the other books I had to see what kind of nifty plot ideas I could borrow or steal, yet ended up pulling me in an entirely different direction when I re-read the Deadlands Reloaded book.

The character creation section of DL:R had a simple paragraph about skills stating something along the lines of, "All standard skills in Savage Worlds are available in Deadlands Reloaded." What the hell is Savage Worlds? I didn't know either, so I did some digging around and happened upon the publisher's website at www.peginc.com. The Savage Worlds system looks like a generic RPG system that is genre-independant, yet versatile and unique all at the same time. The core rulebook only costs like $13! Now granted, I have not used this system, but judging from the Test Drive rules PDF and the one-sheet adventures available on their site it looks simply amazing. While I don't intend to toss aside the system we're using for Dark Heresy, I definitely hope that I can talk some people into trying a game of Deadlands, or another one-off evening of gaming, using the Savage Worlds system.

July 22, 2009

VS System: Golden Age Musings

With our upcoming tourney on Friday night being Golden Age, it got me to thinking. I have lots of decks that I could play, but somehow I just think I need something new. Last event we cracked a box of Marvel Knights to use for sealed play, and I found that to be a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the Crime Lords / Underworld interplay and was shocked at just how awful the X-Statix really are on their own. After batting around some posts on the forums over at vssystem.org I decided that a mono-teamed X-Statix build just wouldn't be the thing for me to build.

So what does that leave me with? I have been playing the game almost from the beginning be there is a surprising amount of stuff that I've left untapped thus far. Looking back over the past few months it seems I've focused mainly on the mini-teams or those that seemed harder to make work on their own like Doom Patrol, Starjammers and Secret Six. Assessing those efforts as honestly as I'm able, I would say that my Doom Patrol deck is the only one that even remotely works as I'd intended. Where to go from here is a bit of a mystery, mainly because Golden Age has just so many options to explore!

Last month I built a Green Lantern / Gotham Knights deck based on an article by Shadowtrooper. It was fun to play, but didn't work that well for me. So I think I might go back to the first Marvel set and pick a team from there. I've never built a Brotherhood, Doom or FF deck...so maybe that's the way to go. I won't restrict myself to team-affiliated cards from just that set, but at least it will give me a place to start. Just which one I'll use on Friday will have to remain a mystery for now.

I know that a lot of the players in the online community feel that Golden Age is simply too wide open, making it unfair or broken. While there is some merit to the argument, I feel that not allowing Golden Age decks to be played at a time when our card pool will not be expanding further would be a terrible mistake. More specifically, in our hobby league group only a few players will go out and build something massively powerful for Golden Age play. More often than not it will be a new deck that is built for fun or just to try it out. However, the option is there to build something near broken in terms of power level. With the right amount of rare cards, time and solid deck design, Golden Age games can be a real battle of skill, or a straight-up scoop if you get the wrong matchup.

To me though, there's nothing better than playing Golden Age, because of all the options, you never know what you're going to see on the other side of the table!

July 20, 2009

Welcome to the Inquisition

Yesterday I had the chance to run a game of Dark Heresy for some friends. This was only my second time as game master (GM), and our group consisted of one experienced role-player, one long-out-of-practice player, and two brand new ones. It was their first exposure to Dark Heresy however...

I've been buying the Dark Heresy books since they were first released early in 2008. Initially I had been shown the core rulebook by a friend of mine while on a trip to Pittsburgh and was captivated by the artwork. I knew little of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and next to nothing about the miniature game. Before heading home on that trip I happened upon a copy of the rulebook for half price, and haven't looked back since.

I devoured the contents of the core book and have purchased all of the other products released to date. I've also purchased dozens if not hundreds of 40k miniatures, and now have pieces to build approximately seven different armies. Sadly only three of those are in any sort of shape to be playable, but I digress. The tabletop game is great, but I don't get to play often. However, it is grounds for another article entirely.

After reading the Dark Heresy core rulebook, I wanted to know more about this grim future they were talking about. So I started buying the 40k omnibus editions that Games Workshop produces. These are massive tomes containing three novels each, and usually sell for around $15 or $16 Canadian. In my opinion this is a screaming deal, because a single paperback now usually costs around $10. Once I had read through the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies I was officially hooked and couldn't wait to start playing Dark Heresy!

I had only one problem: no players. Like any other game, it's no good without players. After asking around over the course of several months to mixed results I finally sent out a call, and was able to find four willing victims, er I mean players to take up the role of Acolytes of the Inquisition.

We set a day and time and I set about preparing their first adventure. It got off to a pretty rocky start, but everyone soon settled into their roles and the story began to take shape. They've uncovered some clues, met some unsavoury characters and drawn blood in their first combat encounter. It hasn't gone all too smoothly for our players either though. Wounds have been taken and damage done. For now they're resting up, but they'll soon be plunged into the darkness once more...

Thanks to everyone who came out to play and make it fun. I enjoyed running the game and am looking forward to the next session.

July 09, 2009

Awfully quiet in here...

Which I'm going to blame on it being summer rather than the decision to ban Blink, but I suppose it could be a little of both. With the stupefying amount of rain we've had here lately though I think that there is probably a lot of kitchen table gaming going on.

I was able to do exactly that on Monday evening, playing several games of VS w/ Scott. My new Arkham Inmates insanity deck held its own against a massive Jean Grey legend, but just couldn't pull out a win on turn 9 (yes NINE) when faced up against a 19/19 Jean Grey, plus an 8-drop Professor X and an Onslaught. Even against all that the game was still pretty close. We also played a game with this deck facing off against the Fantastic Four. I believe that was my only win of the evening. Insanity is tough to build, but so far I think it's a blast to play.

My Legionnaires also got a chance to come out and play. Another deck I love to use because I think the characters are great. However, every time I play this deck I'm reminded that it is a little lacking. The Legionnaires are light on range, and many of them have rather low defense. I've thought several times about how to improve their performance, and this time I think I'll finally take it apart and see what I can do with it. Scott suggested a copy of two of New Mutation...which seems a pretty good idea.

The other deck that got to hit the table was my Purifiers build. Things started out badly for Scott's Hellfire Club, but I wasn't able to pour out mass amounts of Purifiers, and really once I get past turn 5 with them, their chances of winning decreases to almost zero. I didn't see a single copy of Birthing Chamber or X-Babies Attack except when rallying for Purifier cards. Thus they all ended up on the bottom of my deck. Magneto finally wiped out the mutant haters.

Even months after the cancellation of the game I still love playing and building new decks. I think I might finally build a Fantastic Four deck, as I've never done one before. They're not exactly my favorite comic characters, but they've got some great cards to play around with.

July 01, 2009

Happy Cthulhu er...Canada Day

Well, here it's a national holiday and people were out in large numbers to enjoy the sunshine and wave their maple leaf-emblazoned flags proudly. I'm proud to have been born in such a great country like Canada, and now we need to protect it more than ever...from the ancient ones!Over the past few months I've been doing demos for the Call of Cthulhu LCG, and have been please with the reception it's getting from most players. One of the major selling points is that after you buy your base set, it's a minimal investment. The Asylum packs are released on a (near) monthly basis and run around $12. That's around the price of three random packs of your average collectable game, so it's pretty easy to get into for little cost. So in preparation for league play I thought I would give you a few pointers on getting started with the contents of your base set.

There are seven factions in the Call of Cthulhu LCG:

- The Agency: A human faction of law enforcement agents. (Symbol: badge, Colour: blue)
- Miskatonic University: A human faction representing academics and learned folk. (Symbol: scroll, Colour: gold)
- The Syndicate: A human faction made up of mobsters, gangsters and reporters. (Symbol: Dollar sign in a red triangle, Colour: Black)
- Cthulhu: Cthulhu and his minions, as well as cultists and human worshippers. (Symbol: Squid, Colour: green)
- Hastur: Centers on Hastur's role as the King in Yellow, as well as his minions. (Symbol: the Yellow Sign, Colour: yellow)
- Yog-Sothoth: Yog-Sothoth, the humans who worship and study it, and undead monsters it controls. (Symbol: a key, Colour: purple)
- Shub-Niggurath: Shub-Niggurath is responsible for creating mutants, monsters and the like. (Symbol: a goat's head, Colour: red)

Alright, so now you know the major players. The stakes are simple; protect your beloved country, your planet, your sanity, and the very universe against these foul monsters! Or...take control of these slavering demons and their follows and leave a wake of death, instanity and destruction in your wake. In order to do these things, you'll need a deck to play with.

For the first event or two you'll need to to create a deck from the cards in your starter set. The easiest way to create a deck is to chose two of the factions and add their cards together. You'll be a little short, so choose a few of the non-affiliated cards (they're grey) to fill out your deck to a minimum of 50 cards. The rule book has some further suggestions on which grey cards will go better with your faction choices. I've chosen to put Hastur and Shub-Niggurath together, because I think red and yellow won't hurt my eyes. Oh and they've got some pretty nasty powers too! If you're not sure about buying the base set until you've played a few games, one of my demo decks will work fine too, and I'll be happy to provide you with one.

Each month (every other event, as we're playing bi-weekly) you can add cards to your deck by purchasing an Asylum Pack. You're also free to make trades among the other players to help build up your faction's strengths.

Keep in mind a few things if you decide to mix a human and demon faction together. If you have a card in play that has Heroic keyword on it, you cannot play a card that has the Villainous keyword. And vice-versa. They cannot co-exist, so if you do want to play one, you have to chose to destroy the other when you do. This isn't to say NOT to play two factions like this together, as you might be able to come up with a neat strategy for it, but just a warning.

I haven't got a full count of how many players will be joining the league. But I'm expecting to have our league support kit in the next few weeks. I'll be running another round of demo games on Sunday July 12th, and have few more demo decks to give away. If you're interested in a demo or joining the league, please let me know. I'd be happy to help you build your first deck and answer any questions you might have about cards or rules as best I can.