Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Few Observations...Okay, So More than a Few...

It's late, but I feel like geeking it up....hence, blogging.

Now that the school year has started, Dungeon Slam! has been somewhat put on the back burner. This is not to say that work has stopped, but rather that (as usual) real life has to take precedence over the fantasy life. Alas.

That said, I came upon an interesting bit of information, as I've been researching the slider system that Arkham Horror uses to determine character statistics. I entered all of the values into an Excel file, which allowed me to sort them by column. The findings say the least, a little bizarre.

It seems that, statistically speaking, there are definitively better characters than others. Ashcan Pete, for one, has no less than three separate sliders that exceed a value of 5. Sister Mary the Nun, on the other hand, starts with only one--the most useless stat in the game: Luck.
At this point, one might raise the argument that Sister Mary might have some other advantages over Ashcan Pete, but such is not the case. Ashcan starts with better gear and skills, including an ally, and the pair are tied in terms of money. The only advantage that Sister Mary has over him is the fact that she begins the game Blessed...even Ashcan Pete's special ability is better than Mary's.

This is something I'd like to try to avoid in Dungeon Slam! While I want each of the characters to play differently, I want them to maintain some sort of statistical balance, that way there are no "nuns" in my game.

Oh, and by the way? The best characters in Arkham Horror to play, from a statistical vantage-point, are Amanda Sharpe (the Student), Leo Anderson (the Expedition Leader), Dexter Drake (the Magician), and Jenny Barnes (the Dilettante).

In other news, the Witt gaming season kicked off with a board game night, over in Shouvlin. It seems like the WittFolk have some pretty solid plans for this year, which is a major plus, and will be getting a lot of community support. Always pleasant.

The night was capped off with a rousing game of Order of the Stick....which left me feeling somewhat mixed. The more I play Order of the Stick, the less I really enjoy that game. Every time we get about half-way into the game, the repetition of the gameplay just seems to overwhelm everyone, and the massive stacks of monsters overpower the players' ability to aid one another or to defeat the monsters single-handedly. We gave up on the game before even reaching Xykon's lair.

Because of this, I'm really beginning to wonder how much OotS was really playtested before it hit the market. The massive length of the game alone tips me off that games were never played that often in playtest-mode. I could only hope that Dungeon Slam! turns out a little better.

Speaking of Order of the Stick, Rich Burlew has apparently taken a sabbatical from his uber-popular webcomic due to some health issues. I somewhat wonder about this--no doubt that he's been ill. I won't dispute that fact whatsoever. However, details regarding his illness have been sketchy-at-best, and no one exactly seems to know what he has, or what the severity of the illness might be. I really enjoy OotS--I've bought both prequel books, in fact--but I'm beginning to believe that its creator might be making some excuses....

As I mentioned in my prior post, 4th Edition D&D is coming out. The previews I've seen look particularly good, as it seems like they're really trying to take care of some of the rules bloat that 3.5e grew into. The massive amount of books in 3.5e is incredibly overwhelming to anyone joining the game in this day and age, so having a more streamlined system (with fewer messy AOOs!), will make things much easier and happier. I'll be eager to see what happens in the near future with the D&D line. It definitely seems to be heading in the right direction.

The Digital Initiative idea, as well, seems to be pretty interesting. I would like more tangible previews in terms of content, though, before I decide to fork over cash for their functionalities.

I guess that's all....I'll catch up with more later, I suppose.

Oh, and the new Marvel Animated Feature, Dr. Strange? Pure gold. Yays. Makes me want to run a mystic-style game.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Sky is Falling! (and a Dungeon Slam! Update)

It appears that this year's Gen Con is going to be a doozy....

In addition to the release of WEGS (go read up on it, on the Official WEGS Blog!), it seems that the 4th Edition of D&D is nigh.

The countdown is nigh, and the stars are right, it appears.

The licenses for Dragonlance and Ravenloft have reverted back to Wizards. Wizards regains the licenses for Dragon and Dungeon from Paizo, and plans to make them part of the new "Digital Initiative" (now featuring a floating brain-in-a-jar!). And, the 2008 product schedule for 3.5e remains noticably sparse.

I suppose we'll all know the truth, come 6:30 PM tomorrow, when the Gen Con seminar announces whatever it is that's about to hit the fan.

I'll keep you posted, as I learn more.

In other news, Dungeon Slam! has really made some significant progress. I have a prototype board created, and many of the cards are finished. While I still need to work on the Spell deck and the Potion/Miscellany deck, and (most of all!) the Encounter decks, nearly all of the other cards are done. The characters are all but finished--all they need are the slider values for the 6 core stats. The room tiles, the Weapons/Armor deck, and the Skill deck are completed and are only waiting on the rest for playtesting. Even the manual's already written.

Y'know, I didn't think things would come together this fast, all told. Very surprising, but very pleasing. Again, more updates to come!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Goodbye, Losers!

No, I'm not leaving, believe it or not. And I'm not giving up on Dungeon Slam! which, by the way, has a board now....

Rather, I'm saying goodbye to Wexford Hill Hobbies, which is going the way of the dodo.

Y'see, I really used to like Wexford Hill. Their selection was always really good, in terms of game books, and they picked up Keebler, who used to work at Howling Wolf in Springfield before they closed.

Problem was, the honeymoon was short, and none too sweet.

Several times, Lionel, myself and others approached Wexford Hill about working together to build up WittCon. After being given lip-service for nearly a year, they didn't show. We gave them a second chance, the following year--same crap.

Beyond this, Lionel had requested them to special-order certain items on several occasions. Did they ever show up? Not a chance.

So, our preferences quickly changed towards Bookery Fantasy, in Fairborn and, more recently, Bell Book and Comic in Dayton.

Y'know, it's normally a sad thing for me when a game store goes out of business. I was genuinely sad when Readmore left Upper Valley Mall, when Bill and Walt finally gave it up in Greensburg, and when Howling Wolf folded. The owners there knew how to treat their customers--they served them as they themselves would have liked to have been treated. They treated gamers like gamers, because they were gamers themselves.

I'm not sad at all that Wexford Hill is gone. In fact, I somewhat reveled in "looting their corpse"--picking up items I've wanted at half the normal cost, as they tried desperately to unload their stock of gaming supplies.

As we were leaving, I had to chuckle--I'm more than happy going to Bookery and Bell Book. The people that care about their business and care about their customers deserve to stay in business--and that's them, not Wexford.