Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Warlock's Origins 2010 "Live" Blog--Friday!

Note: While this entry is going up today, it was written just following the day listed. Stay tuned throughout the week for my day-by-day coverage of Origins 2010!

Another day of Origins has already passed us by, and it’s been a glorious run so far! Now to head towards finishing the con with a bang!

Today started with some Cosmic Encounters, as hosted by Game Base 7. GB7 is Fantasy Flight Games’ happy demo-team and, while I can’t really complain about the service, the youth and relative inexperience of the team members is a little concerning. While Zoe, our GM, was quality, many of the others were somewhat immature and not very experienced on the games they were running.

Cosmic Encounters was quality, though I’m not sure it’s something I’ll pick up personally. The premise is simple—your alien race must conquer the planets across the galaxy by wheeling, dealing, and terminating with mass prejudice. Some rules, however, were a little fiddly, and the GM’s race was incredibly overpowered in comparison to some of ours.

Afterwards, it was time to gather our dwarven clan and head off to the RPGA room. This was a real treat, as it was in the brand-new Battelle Hall ballroom. Gorgeous scenery and locale made for a quality setting for what turned out to be a solid game. The group really had fun, and we picked up Chaotic Fred and The Professor just in time for it.

The biggest problem I had with Sibilant Whispers was not the game, the GM, or the RPGA. Rather, it was my dice! Ugh, once again, the Pwn Andy rule was in effect. While the first encounter went well, I spent most of the second encounter dominated and floating through the Elemental Chaos, and most of the third stunned. I hang my head in shame—once again, my dice fail me. Jules, however, won the MVP award and, with it, a free set of GameScience dice courtesy of GAMA. Woot!

After another quality dinner at the Japanese Steak House (man, we eat well in Columbus!), we got ready to set up our games for the evening. Friday brought us another round of Survival of the Fittest. I was a little worried about this game, as I had thought that only 2 people had registered for it. To my excitement, 5 showed up—more than enough to run, and run well. After something of a slow start, the players really started rolling as they explored Xanthippus Ral’s swamp-borne abode. Unfortunately for them, their troubles were only starting!

One of the nice things today was being able to hang out with some of the other WittKids who have come in for the weekend. BLoff, Chaotic Fred, and The Professor are some of the better gamers around, so it’s nice to be able to share in the spectacle with them, as well as with the new blood. Great times, indeed.

But, with two more days of hot gaming action, I’m not done yet!! Game on!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Warlock's Origins 2010 "Live" Blog--Thursday!

Note: While this entry is going up today, it was written just following the day listed. Stay tuned throughout the week for my day-by-day coverage of Origins 2010!

I must say, I’m glad that today was a little slower than yesterday, or else I’d definitely be wiped for this weekend. Luckily for yours truly, fellow gamers, your friendly neighborhood Warlock took a slightly easier schedule for today, which let me relax a little and enjoy the actual convention itself.

The Enigmatic Mr. Ebbs and I started off the day on the right side of the bed, heading off to hunt down some heretics in Rescue of a Lifetime, Part I. There was a short moment of drama as EEE’s badge went missing, but the GAMA staff was quick to give him an assist, getting him a replacement. Lucky for him, he had his tickets still, which served as proof that he had paid for his badge in the first place.
If it’s one great thing that I can depend on, it’s the quality and the hilarity coming from Amorphous Blob Games. GM Rich—who had GMed our previous forays into the Calixis Sector—took us through another hearty adventures, with my Arbitrator Moric drinking everything in sight and EEE’s psychotic Psyker Bazziti laying down flame in the name of the Emperor.

EEE actually ended up being honored with the MVP of the session, gaining a set of custom dice, with yours truly picking up the Origins swag. You see, all of the Origins events this year—in honor of the 35th anniversary of Origins—have full prize support. Later in the day, I swung by the RPG Headquarters and was allowed to roll for my prize: a set of GameScience precision dice. Not bad at all!

As I mentioned in my previous schedule, I dropped my previously-scheduled Giant Settlers of Catan game in favor of some extra time in the dealer hall. This was a pretty prudent decision on my part, as I had quite a bit of shopping to do. After picking up the necessary minis for tomorrow’s Sibilant Whispers RPGA game and a set of minis for Karl’s D&D game, I swung by the WEGS booth to hang with their crew for a tick. Naturally, I also made some time to check out the other vendors, talk to the Con on the Cob people about possibly doing some demos for them, and hit the Steve Jackson Games booth to pick up Delta Green: Eyes Only as well as to raid their 3 for $10 table. Naturally, though, I’ll cover all of the swag in my post-Origins report!

After picking up the PlatinumChick and finding our way for a quick dinner at Buca di Beppo, we headed out for our evening games. On the plus side, EEE, L-Train, and Karl all sold out of their games! On the downside, though, I was left with a mere one player: the old school WEGSHog Minnesota Steve, with whom I chatted for a while, before he joined Karl’s game. While I was left out in the cold, it was exciting to see the rest of the WittCrew fill the seats so early in the con. I snapped some pictures before heading up with the PlatinumChick for a relaxing evening of reading and movies.

With a full slate on deck tomorrow—Cosmic Encounters in the morning, Sibilant Whispers in the afternoon, and another venture into Survival of the Fittest tomorrow, I’m sure to be picking up the pace tomorrow. As always, I’ll keep you posted on the geeky goings-on!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Warlock's Origins 2010 "Live" Blog--Wednesday!

Note: While this entry is going up today, it was written just following the day listed. Stay tuned throughout the week for my day-by-day coverage of Origins 2010!

Whew! Origins has come, my lovelies, and your friendly neighborhood Warlock has been busy already! On the plus side, though, since GAMA has sponsored a free Wi-Fi spot outside of the open gaming hall, I can keep you updated on all the glorious action.

After a bustling trip up, and a quick shot over to the airport to pick up Karl, we were ready to rock and roll on Wednesday.
Karl and I actually started the day together, with a round of The Stars are Right!, a relatively new production from Steve Jackson Games. Fundamental premise: you’re all cultists of the Great Old Ones, rearranging a 5x5 grid of stars and constellations, hoping to be the first to summon forth a sanity-devouring horror.
It’s a neat little game, though the spatial reasoning aspect of it was a little outside of my typical comfort zone. The gameplay, once we got through the ruleset, was really solid.

From there, we hit North Market—my absolutely favorite lunch spot while in Columbus—where I swung by Barry’s NY Deli for a sandwich and some matzo ball soup. No pastrami this time, though—I was too early! Rather, I settled on a (still very tasty!) corned beef on rye, with their glorious deli mustard.

After lunch, I joined the Enigmatic Mr. Ebbs for some Stargate SG-1 action, with the Matinee Adventures group. While I was a little disappointed at the number of people around the table—there were 8 or 9 of us in on one game, the Savage Worlds system was able to handle the number of players, where the d20 rules did not. The GM was particularly solid, as well, as our team attempted to find the long-missing Major Cromwell on a barely-explored world. Our party was more than a little trigger-happy, though, leading to some rough times for yours truly, playing the only diplomat!

Dinner at Barley’s went quickly, before we had to prep for our first events of the year. Mine-—my first session of Survival of the Fittest—-was sold out, with a solid crew of gamers from Columbus and the surrounding area. They eagerly set about the task of hunting down Xanthippus Ral, only to have their party cohesiveness break down as they were surrounded by the Fydae Zombies. However, they jumped full-on into the PvP spirit, and went down in a blaze of glory! I'll admit, I was a little nervous when starting to run this game, being on the "big stage" and all, but it turned out to be a total blast, as the players really grabbed the intent of their characters.

For once, after I managed to pack up my minis and battlemat, I actually managed to head down to the “Big Bar on 2”—-the Hyatt’s own bar—-to hang out with El Willy, his wife, and Kain (of TableTop Gamers) and his wife. It’s been ages since we’ve had a chance to just sit down and shoot the breeze, so this was really a welcome change, and a much needed break to wind down the day with.

Tomorrow? The PlatinumChick finally arrives in town, EEE and I will root out some heretics in Dark Heresy, and I’ll have a glorious time checking out this year’s sold-out dealer hall! Pics are forthcoming, my lovelies! Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In Which The Warlock is Back!

Another Origins has come and gone, my lovelies, and it's been one heck of a ride.

As I'm sitting here, recovering from all of the awesome gaming, I'm going to take tonight catch my breath and relax, and unpack all of our glorious swag.

This week, stay tuned for my "pseudo-live" entries, done after each night of our Origins experience. Then, keep your eyes peeled for my post-con wrap up and swag report. And don't forget the pictures! They're coming, as soon as I can get them uploaded!

Cheers, all!

Monday, June 21, 2010

In Which The Warlock Supports Some Reapers...

As I'm busy packing for Origins 2010, I wanted to set aside a little time to show off minis I'm looking at picking up for our RPGA game. With clan united behind axe and hammer, we shall prevail!!

The PlatinumChick's mighty war-skald!

The Professor's wrathful Invoker!

Chaotic Frederick's furious Avenger!

Karl's starry-eyed Warlock!

Your friendly neighborhood Warlock's very own Hamish, Paladin of Amuanator!

All of these, naturally, are from Reaper Miniatures (all rights reserved, and all that jazz). Hopefully, I can find them all! :D

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Which The Warlock Assesses His Schedule...

With Origins less than a week away, it's now that happy time to show off what I'll be doing during the week!

Last year's Origins, while a ton of fun, had a massive flaw for me. With few exceptions, I ended up playing mainly D&D, WEGS, and Call of Cthulhu. While I love all three--collectively, they make up my three favorite game systems--there is, as they say, "too much of a good thing". I actually ended up envying the PlatinumChick's schedule, which broke up her favorites with other cool games, like a Watchmen-based "Mutants and Masterminds" game.

This time around, though, I vowed to change it up a little! On the whole, I tried to limit myself to one board game and one rpg per day, in addition to the games that I'll be running myself. So, without further adieu....let's take a look!

Wednesday, June 23

The Stars are Right--#4984--9:00am-11:00am
I figured that if I'm going to start Origins right, it's got to be with some tentacled-goodness! Plus, TSaR is an Origins-award nominated game, from the eponymous Steve Jackson Games. I was really pleased with Cthulhu Dice (and have similar hopes for Zombie Dice), so this one should be a winner.

Matter of Time--#6794--1:00pm-5:00pm
The first convention game that I ever played in was a Stargate d20 game, at our first Origins. That game was utterly miserable. However, I have high hopes for this one. Will (the ManMan!) spent quite a bit of time converting SG-1 over to the Savage Worlds system, and it looks like he wasn't the only one with that idea. This one definitely has me excited.

Survival of the Fittest--#7085--7:00pm-11:00pm
An old favorite from WittCon VI, I'm excited to be running this one. Plus, even more exciting, it's sold out!

Thursday, June 24

Rescue of a Lifetime--#6895--9:00am-1:00am
As if I'm not going to get enough heretic-smashing fun, I joined a Dark Heresy game joined by the good folks at Amorphous Blob Games. This one's unique, though: you see, it's a two-table affair! This one should be interesting, no doubt.

Giant Settlers of Catan--#3977--2:00pm-4:00pm
Don't get your panties in a twist, fellow gamers. I'm not actually going to play this one. I joined this as I had thought that our WittKids would be joining it en masse, but such wasn't the case. Besides, I have some shopping to do in the Dealer Hall during this time!

WEGS Plume Mountain--#7197--7:00pm-11:00pm
After throwing down this module at both FOPCon and AnCon, it's ready for its Origins debut! Hopefully my dice will cooperate this time, Ctenmiir will stay out of the mud pit, and BiBBle won't go down like a punk! I still have slots for this one--come on out and Spante up!

Friday, June 25

Cosmic Encounters--#3523--10:00am-12:00 noon
I honestly have little to no information on this one. I know it's a board game, I know it's relatively new(-ish), and that it's based on an older board game which has since been revamped. Aside from that, I have no foreknowledge whatsoever. Surprise!

Sibilant Whispers--#6469--1:00pm-5:00pm
I've already noted my excitement for this 4e scenario in my last entry. Our dwarven clan is almost ready, complete with Hamish (my avenging paladin!), a mighty Invoker, the PlatinumChick's war-skald (a Bard, wielding a two-handed hammer!), and Karl's star-pact Warlock. Very exciting indeed!

Survival of the Fittest--#7084--7:00pm-11:00pm
See above, only this one still has slots! Come purge the unclean with us!

Saturday, June 26

The Clue of Cthulhu--#7111--9:00am-1:00pm
Earlier, I mentioned the difficulty of the PlatinumChick and I actually gaming together. Well, we decided to end that right quick. This game--run by our good friends at Rogue Cthulhu--will be our first one together!

I AM William Wallace--#6803--2:00pm-6:00pm
I know very little about the Might, Magic, and Lore system, but I couldn't pass up a chance to "kill the English" here. Bonus points, if I can get a hold of the actual Hamish, Wallace's hairy friend from the movie (and many of my D&D characters' namesake!).

WEGS Plume Mountain--#7196--7:00pm-11:00pm
See above, and Spante up some more! Slots still remain for this one, too!

Sunday, June 27

Attack of the Mutant--#4924--10:00am-12:00 noon
We decided to end out this year's Origins on a laid-back note, with a little bit of board-gaming. This one, a riff on the old '50s monster movies, should be a lot of fun...

Red Dragon Inn (Play with a Creator!)--#4571--1:00-3:00pm
Okay, so I had an ulterior motive on this one. I'd heard good things out of Slugfest Games' brainchild, so I've been wanting to give this a roll for a while, but being able to play with a creator is a unique experience. Plus, if this helps get me an in for "Dungeon Slam!"...all the better!

Well, cats and kittens, that's it! Come on out and see us in Columbus, starting next week!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In Which The Warlock Delves Deep...

I've come to the realization that, somewhat unduly, I tend to rag on the RPGA more than I really should. While the RPGA doesn't typically interest me, it does get a lot of gamers together, and supports the hobby in a way that no other organization really does. Plus, the support it's given by WotC really aids in conventions, both large and small.

For once, though, the RPGA has piqued my interest--this year's Origins Game Fair.

You see, in our group, we rarely (if ever) get to actually play together. Sure, we play RPGs, but one of us (usually myself, Fred, or the PlatinumChick) act as the GM. That means that someone inevitably gets left out of the game in at least one aspect.

But, at Origins, if we have someone else run game...we can actually play together!

So, we signed up for a paragon-tier RPGA game--"Sibilant Whispers", which has something to do with a "mad warlock's prophecy in the East Rift". Thanks to the RPGA's guidelines for character generation, we're able to bring our own characters to the table, fresh from the DDI Character Builder.

The question was, though, what should we run? Then, as we e-mailed back and forth, it struck me:

an all-dwarf party! A clan!

I've never done something like this before. I've seen the possibilities for it on and a few other message boards, but I'd never even seen the results of running a one-race party, all of whom are related.

As such, I've been busy (in amongst packing, getting scenarios finalized, and prepping the house for our yearly sojourn) putting together our characters. I've put the finishing touches on my own: Hamish, son of Harrigan--a Dwarf Paladin of Amaunator. With waraxe in hand, he's ready to lay down some holy justice!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

In Which The Warlock Rants Just a Little Bit...

This is going to sound like heresy to some of my gaming friends, particularly in the Springfield area. Really, this is going to sound like heresy to the PlatinumChick even, as it's going to sound a little off-putting, even though it fits.

I, your friendly neighborhood Warlock, can't stand EuroGames.

By EuroGames, I'm referring to the genre of board games that have been coming out of Europe for the past decade or more, which include "Settlers of Catan", "Carcassonne", and "Galaxy Truckers". U.S. developers and the like have been creating these as well, with games like "Kingsburg" and the like. Eurogames are epitomized by their 'friendly' nature--they're built for the family and the like to sit around and kibitz. They're rarely competitive, because people are only rarely "knocked out" of the gameplay. They're rarely involved, because they're meant for a whole family to play, which means that they tend to be unfocused.

They bore me. To tears.

The passive agressive nature of conflict in these games aggravates me beyond belief. Even the most aggressive PvP player in "Settlers of Catan" can only build from their own starting position, and only pursue other players with The Robber when the dice allow. Strategy isn't involved--it's pure dice luck, as you're more focused on building up your own cities.

"Kingsburg" is a really killer in that nature. For the entirety of the game, you have no contact with the other players, aside from placing your dice. And, even then, the most aggressive that you can get is placing your dice in a space that another desires.

That's miserable. That's sad.

Conflict is, and must be, at the root of all games. It's human nature to want to win, and to use our wits (and other resources) to do it. When a game removes that conflict, it becomes nothing more than a table-piece--something to decorate your room with.

Without conflict, what's the point?

As I set out on the 5th (and hopefully submission!) draft of "Dungeon Slam!", I've been keeping this idea deeply in mind. "DS" has really become something different than everything out there. At every level of the game--from start to finish, and from high to low powered--there are ways to interfere with other players. Even a freshly dead, weakened character can make the life of a fully beefed-out champion into a living hell.

Smirk and Dagger Games have always done a great job with this, as have a few other companies, such as Fantasy Flight. Of course, Steve Jackson's "Munchkin" series emphasizes this philosophy, but it's a true rarity in a sea of Euro-trash. Most uniquely, "Arkham Horror" (and games of its ilk, like "Fury of Dracula") include conflict, but rather force the players to group together, as they attempt to defeat the game itself. Conflict remains, whereas games like "Settlers" leave me wanting.

Alack, alas, fellow gamers...a great void exists for us cut-throat bastards, who want nothing more than to stab their brethren in the back, betray them in underhanded manners, and break their words. With any luck, "Dungeon Slam!" and its follower "SunnyVale Acres" will break new/old ground in the gaming world!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

In Which The Warlock Speaks on AnCon...

In our ongoing efforts to bring the Wittenberg style of gaming to other conventions, L-Train, the Enigmatic Mr. Ebbs, the PlatinumChick and I headed out for a semi-local convention last weekend: AnCon 2010, in Hudson, OH. I had heard good things about AnCon from several sources, and was even further encouraged to hear that it was Amorphous Blob’s “home convention”. I’ve always enjoyed AB Games’ selections at Origins, so I was happy to be joining them again for a weekend.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that AnCon was really a great experience. In fact, it was somewhat underwhelming.

We arrived on Friday to a bustling hotel. After picking up our badges, we headed to our room to await word from our old friend Nick and his fiancée, Chaotic Lauryn. Thumbing through the on-site book, we immediately took notice of what became a hallmark for our entire weekend: a whole slew of typos and errors.

You see, we arrived at AnCon locked and loaded with 3 sessions of games each—I had prepped WEGS demos (complete with free prize support from El Willy!), while EEE, L-Train, and PlatinumChick brought CthulhuTech, d20 Zombies, and Call of Cthulhu respectively. I had personally done the write-ups for all of our games, pulling them from previous WittCon and Origins descriptions, proofing them as I went. The write-ups in the on-site book, though? They were a train wreck, with numerous misspelling and the like. Wittenberg was misspelled each time, being spelled “Whittenebreg”. Seriously, guys? For a comped badge, I’d have edited the book myself.

The next day, we set out for our first games, arriving early so that we could check out the Dealer Hall and perhaps jump into one of the many WotC Dungeon Delves that were going on. Believe it or not, I actually had fun with this one. Rare is the time that all of us actually get to play D&D together—usually, at least one of us is the GM, so we can’t all pull a character and just run through an adventure.
After the Delver, we headed out for our first games. Or, rather, game. Singular.

Only Jules’ “Welcome to Zendik Farms” game had any players whatsoever during the first session. Both L-Train and I were left in the cold, while EEE had a pair, which quickly left, as they were apparently hung over from the previous evening’s festivities. After an hour-long palaver with Dave Radzik—the AnCon organizer—I put away the Copper Pot and rejoined our group.

We decided upon a demo of Blitz Jager—a space-based dogfighting game that was still in playtest. Unfortunately, Blitz Jager was something of a dud. In less than an hour, it became infinitely apparently that there were massive balance issues between the space “factions” and that actual dogfighting was nigh-impossible. You had to practically be on top of your foe in order to deal damage to them! Some ‘dogfighting’, right? Disappointed with Blitz Jager, we waited for Jules to finish her trek through Cthulhu territory to grab some food.

That evening, I had been looking forward to running a group through Dingbitt’s Dunge-o’-DOOM—the quintessential WEGS dungeon crawl. I had 4 people signed up for it, only to arrive back to see that all four had cancelled! Hell’s bells, I thought! What was the point? I did manage to scrounge up three players, who joined EEE, L-Train and Emily in the dungeon. However, that meant dropping both EEE’s and L-Train’s games, for whom no players showed up.

The next day brought with it much of the same. While PlatinumChick’s game had players on deck, she was feeling under the weather, so the players joined EEE’s game. I was just about to pack up my WEGSing materials, when an interesting thing occurred.

One of the con organizers came by with his three kids. Apparently, he had attempted to get them into one of the WotC Dungeon Delves, but both of the coordinators were running games. Looking for an easy-to-learn, dungeon-crawling game, he thought that WEGS might fit the bill. As such, I passed out the Ark cards and L-Train joined me in initiating the youngest group of WEGSHogz—two pre-teen girls and their 9 year old brother.

Y’know, I had thought that I might have a hard time with the whole thing, but the teaching background tends to help. L-Train took the little brother under his wing, while I focused on the two young ladies. With two Warriors, a Ranger, and L-Train’s Gnobbit Trickster in tow, they headed deep into White Plume Mountain…where they handed my dice to me on a platter.

Let’s do the math here: 5 (on the Damage Die) + 2 (bonus from Vagary’s Discretion) x 7 (Ranger Strength) + 6 (6/66 Good Shot) + 4 (Ranger Strength Up) = 7 x 17 Wounds! That’s 119 Wounds! In one bloody hit! In the words of our 9-year-old “ninja”… “BiBBle bits everywhere!”

We headed home shortly after our two games ended. L-Train and I had enough time for me slip into the Dealer Hall once more to pick up some Call of Cthulhu minis—including a Dunwich Horror set, which I’ll be reporting on later.

Overall, I can’t even say that I had a fun time at AnCon. We had brought 12 games to Akron, only to have less than half of them go off and, even then, only because our own gamers jumped in to fill seats. The people at the Reg Desk often seemed confused at what was going on, and attendance seemed really sparse for the number of events going on.

I suppose a fitting analogy for it all might be the Clarion Inn’s own breakfast. As AnCon GMs, we were given passes for a free hot breakfast buffet each morning. It was a great perk, I thought, as we went to the breakfast on Saturday. That is, until we got there. Service was lousy, it took over half an hour for us to get seated, and we didn’t even get drinks till the end of the meal. We still went Sunday, but it was no better. Just as with the breakfast, AnCon had hit-and-miss service, few games we were able to actually play, and little interest in what we were bringing to the table.

I’m not sure whether we’re going to give AnCon a second chance in this regard. While it got the word out on WEGS a little bit and it’s close-by, I’m not sure it’s worth the expenditure for next year, if we can’t even fill half of our slots. I feel like both FOPCon and even WittCon were somewhat better organized, with more events going off, and a better handle kept on scheduling. Time will tell, I hope.