Rome Total War 2 Emperor Edition here we go

Against my better judgement, I’ve installed Rome Total War 2 again after a hasty deletion early this year due to the initial release being a HUGE pile of shite (pretty though).  They have had a year to fix all the crap and make the gameplay actually work and I’m going to give the developers another chance with the free (thank you) Emperor edition expansion.  I will post thoughts and feelings as I go.

that said, Napoleon Total War, which I’m finishing up a Prussian campaign now, is EXCELLENT.


Matt, this is out for MAC.  Get it.

Murderhoboing economics!

hobosD&D 5 can fill their books with painted pictures of heroes slashing through hordes of monsters or slaying some giant lizard with wings all they want, the reality of Medieval fantasy roleplaying games is that of murderhoboing: a group of psychos wandering around killing non-humans (and often other humans) for money, or just for fun and ‘adventure.’  Lamentations of the Flame Princess REVELS in this reality–describing anyone that would actually go ‘adventuring’ as murdering free radicals in society who are nearly all universally dangerously insane (Specialists are an exception).  Regardless, if the characters survive, they end up accumulating mass amounts of money and gems (also slaves, property and animals as well) and this lady did an economic portrait of the effect of ‘adventuring’ in a typical dark ages/medieval setting.  Result: gargantuan hyper inflation. (the essay itself is a bit of a mess, but it’s just a blog, not the Economist!)


Shadowfist Victory (not me this time!)



Steve the Burger and Fries was the winner of this year’s World Championship at Gencon of Shadowfist. He played with a Purist/Architect deck (below) with write up.


Total Cards:  51

 Feng Shui Sites (10)

Dockyard (4)
Martyr’s Tomb (2)
Manufactured Island
Gambling House (2)
Lagrange Four

 Sites (1)

Drug Lab

Foundation Characters (10)

Mathmagician (5)
DNA Mage (5)

Other Characters (10)

Dr. Timbul Damiri (3)
Damon Winter
Bonechill (2)
Primus (2)
Shards of Warped Reflection

Elsa Winterhaagen

 Events (13)

Imprisoned (2)
Nerve Gas (2)
Expendable Unit (2)
Uncontrolled Mutation (2)
Pocket Demon (2)
Cellular Reinvigoration
Secret Pact
IKTV Special Report

 States (2)

Material Transendence (2)

 Edges (5)

Evil Brain in a Jar (2)
Rise of the NeoBuro (2)
Paradox Cube

Here’s how it all played out……I needed to get some tuning in before the tournament, so the night before, we played 4 games, all 3 man with Matt and Mouth.  After taking serious beatings from both of them in 3 of the games, and barely eeking out a less than impressive victory in the 4th, we looked at slimming the deck down a bit.  I ended up taking out 3 vivisectors and 2 Paradox Gardens, and adding an IKTV special report.

So I rolled into the tournament far from confident.  There were nine players, so It was three-man the whole way….another problem for my less than fast deck….

Game 1 (Monarchs, Jammers)

The Jammer deck got off to a very fast start, getting out 3 big maques and a horde of other monkeys early, all helped by my first hitter destroying himself on an uncovered Temple of Angry Spirits.  I was being run off the table.  The Jammers burned for power 3 times, and with the monarch deck starting slowly as well, I just couldn’t get going.  There seem to be a lot of new cards with monkey designators, and there were hordes of token characters all over the place.  I managed, through a combination of my opponents’ unwillingness to just end it & a few denial cards, to hold off an outright win, and we were timed out.  Looked like the end of the road for me, with a permanent spot at the losers table.

Game 2 (Monarchs, Hand)

The Monarchs followed me to the losers table, along with a hand deck.  I had a horrible start in this one (no architect resources), but was helped by the fact that the Monarch player was using resources to smash the hand player with early events and attacks.  Now most of those events were cancelled by Confucian stabilities, but none-the-less, my opponents were stymying each other, and I was able to recover a bit.  Another strange thing was that the Hand player had two revealed proving grounds, which didn’t help him.  Anyways, it was time for his Iron Monkey to cause problems, but alas, a nerve gas smoked him with no power gained or sites taken.  Even with Rise of the Neoburo out, I had 3 or 4 turns in a row where I could not draw any hitters, so I just played sites.  Finally, with the table cleared, an exposed proving ground with 1 body, and only 1 fighting characters in play, I went for the win with a mathmagician(!?)……and a cellular reinvigoration……..very silly, but it worked, and I had a chance again with a win under my belt.

Game 3 (Jammers, Lotus)

The monkeys were back, I had a new Lotus opponent, and my deck had not yet shown any signs of getting out any of my combos.  Again, the Jammers were out quickly, but we held him down a little to prevent that overpowering start.  The lotus looked to be well positioned with a hitter out and one of my sites burned for power.  Then, he tried to play spirit wrack on a Jammers character, and had his hitter smoked by who’s the monkey now.  This allowed me to get Damon Winter out, and load up on cards.  He was smoked, but Bonechill followed several times, thanks to Dr. Timbul, and I settled on toasting a big maque, and turning into a size 14 hitter.  Along with rise of the neoburo and material transcending the reverend Adam Wither into a useless edge, I gained some traction.  This game ended with time being called also, but I scored good points.

When the total points were added up, John and Willow were 1-2, and I was tied for 3rd with Troy.  There was some posturing back and forth about who should get in, and what the tiebreakers were.  When no one could decide, John and Willow were ok with a 4-man final.

Game 4 (The final-Jammers-Troy, Monarchs-Willow, Architects-John)

What a game.  I definitely appreciated playing with three very accomplished players, and I hope everyone wasn’t too annoyed with my constant fumbling and bumbling of the rules…..Things started with some early attacks that were thwarted.  I attacked the monarchs with Bonechill hoping for a lucky site grab, only to reduce it to 1.  The Architects were thwarted, but the jammers got the site.  With the Monarchs kneecapped, I drew a nice run of cards, played secret pact, which allowed me to throw out Damon Winter.  I attacked the Monarchs again, hoping for a squishy site, and found it, burning for power.  Then I was able to play IKTV special report right away after that, and had 8 power before my turn started again.  That was what I needed, as I played Rise of the Neoburo, Dr. Timbul, Material Transcended him, and played a Paradox Cube (copying Timbul) that turn.  That definitely drew some attention.  I was very lucky in that no one had edge hate cards, so my stacked Timbuls would remain for the rest of the game.  Things went on with no one able to gain the upper hand for a while.  An amazing 3 neutron bombs were dropped, and even more amazingly, all were cancelled.  Eventually Damon Winter was smoked (along with several Gnarled Annihilators, Fakhir-al-din, and lots of monkeys), but replaced with Primus (and my whole deck was in my hand anyways).  A few turns later and I was finally I was able to find the architect’s endless corridor turned, and sacrificed Primus, then returned him to play so no architect nasty cards could be played.  I went for the win with 5 or 6 buffed monkeys able to block, but threw down a cellular re-invigoration that couldn’t be countered……and that was it!


New APHEX TWIN this year

The blimp over London with the APHEX logo was not a fan-made thingy– it was a harbinger of what was to cum– a new Aphex record.   Of course it’s possible that this is all fan-stuff rather than the real deal, but it appears that there will be a new record in 2014 and you know, that’s just fucking GREAT both for the new Twin stuff but the fact that we might see some new WISP records on Rephlex.


Gencon Rundown 1: Elderly gay tennis courtier – An Hillfolk AAR!

I got to say the title of this post quite a bit during Gencon, first in reference to a real sad sack we have to deal with at the con but mostly during an excellent game of Hillfolk, the new award winning game from Robin Laws.

Now, I rip on Larping to no end, and stuff like Fiasco, Durance, Carolina death crawl and Hillfolk are about as close as I would ever want to come to that rather odd hobby, but these games are great and they have simple yet rules. While I like Fiasco, and Carolina Death Crawl is an amazing one shot, Hillfolk is a serious contender for the best of these types of games from what I’ve played.  This was a 3 day Gencon event hosted by a dude named Sam.

The scenario we played was straight out of DARK SHADOWS. Set in 1985 (pre-cell phones) somewhere in New England in a small fishing town where various families historically don’t like each other much and the patriarch of one of the main families has passed on. There were a few plot hooks thrown out (nothing obviously super natural in the beginning) and we were off creating characters. The character creation reminded me of the early versions of FATE, where you have plot devices and motivations attached to each other character. The created characters were awesome, there was me: an apathetic party girl from the main family line, some old doctor (the one that was called an elderly gay tennis courtier), a young man from a rival family, an evil half sister, an addict of a brother and a mostly scared all the time office assistant to the family. The GM spun all this into a crazy tale of horror and death, with our help of course. The main meat of character creation is that there are characters that want something from you that you won’t give up, like my bleached butthole in my character’s case, or something you want from another character that they won’t give you, like a pile of money to go shopping with, again in my character’s case. Each character is torn between two poles, and you will get bennies (a sort of in-game economy) if you act, and I mean ACT, in a way that shows conflict between those two poles.

Claudia Stone!

When you actually start to play (after character creation) you randomly get to create scenes. These are either roleplaying or some sort of task determining scenes (like a fight or sneaking around). Typically scenes involve you picking some of the other characters to talk with you about stuff. You usually want something from them and if you get it, or the other character refuses, you end the scene. The plot is not set, and is entirely dependent on the scenes that characters create. Some of the scenes were duds, like when you flip to some daytime soap opera and there is just some poorly written trash going on before they get to showing cleavage (I like the Mexican ones a lot more than the American Soaps for this reason). Granted, ALL of this is ad-libbed, so you have to give players a break if they’re not Constance Ford and if you are shy– ah… likely don’t play this game because you have to talk, and talk a lot about stuff that you had no idea was going on moments ago. Playing a female character for me was a challenge as many of you can imagine, but I nailed it enough to get a benny from the other players after the first “show.” I had to fall in love with one of the other characters which was sort of awkward as it was a dude, but awesome at the same time. During the rounds of scenes, the GM will interject plot scenes to move everything forward– these are likely completely off the cuff but are key as it seemed like character scenes were not the hardcore driver of the plot– we had to work around these obviously huge upcoming scenes rather than dive right in.

That said, towards the end I started getting crazy with my scenes, like a Soap that is hurting for ratings. Car crashes (hurling myself and other characters off cliffs), murder in the hospital, crazy talk and all that leading up to a blood soaked finale was amazing to be a part of.   There was just this amazing mometum that started happening about 5-6 scenes in: we had built up our characters enough to know generally how things would shake out, but no one knew what would actually happen.  The game ended with two players dead, two run away and an evil triumvirate taking shape to rule the town forever?

Final thoughts: Play this with extroverts, play it co-ed (an all-dude game, frankly, would not be very good unless your knuckleheads were good at playing women), and don’t be shy about bringing crazy shit into your scenes or calling people elderly gay tennis courtiers! (which is not my line, it’s from In the Loop BTW).  We were a bit too tame at first with setting our scenes, as the game could have gone berserk earlier, giving it a FEAST 2 vibe rather than like an 80’s soap opera that stooped to a Satanic cult plot to grab ratings.

This was the back of my character sheet, with the most important stuff during the game for the most part.

This was the back of my character sheet, with the most important stuff during the game for the most part.

Bolt Action -getting started

Warlord Games posted an extremely slick  and content rich starting guide for Bolt Action.    While the content is cool and all, I was impressed from a web development standpoint at the responsive design.   Not that it would ever get up on theFWA or anything (since they don’t post the nerd stuff ever) but viewing this part of the site on a phone in the morning and a PC at night was impressive as both we aesthetic and functional.  Especially on the phone I was able to get at a ton of great info, extremely usable and readable.  A lot of other gaming sites should look at this bad boy.


GENCON recaps!

Awesome shirt steve!

Awesome shirt steve!

I’m back from the con and it was good. I won’t be able to encapsulate my thoughts into a single post, and some of the topics DESERVE their own singular essays– so over the next few days I will try to decompartmentalize the madness. I was planning on posting DURING gencon itself, but other than the few pictures there just wasn’t time or sobriety to do so.

Topics up-cumming:
Hillfolk and the drama system experience
Sad news for Shadowfist
OSR stuff and Other RPG’s
Gencon Nightlife
Picture gallery
Random stuff that looked cool.