iOS games of 2017: one sentence reviews

I installed and played a lot of ios games in 2017 since I ride the bus an hour and back for work. Most were awful or were good games that just sucked on the iphone form factor.  I’ve got a huge and awkward V6+ which is nearly a mini ipad– but not nearly big enough for many of these games. Here’s what I suffered from so you don’t have to.   

Dungeon Warfare
Solid tower defense that works very well on the phone, worth the purchase.

Mordheim
This was interesting for a short time, but became so samey as to not be worth bothering with due to samey maps and missions.

A Planet of Mine
I got stuck twice early game with no way to create mines to mine the thing I needed to make mines, which was not fun.

Really Bad Chess
It’s chess with random pieces so theory has no place at all in the game, which I appreciate, but it’s still just chess.

Hero Generations Regen
This is a simplistic roguelike where your heroes get old, have babies and the babies grow up to go fight monsters, thought it was cool for about a day and then got very bored.

Vempire Kings of Darkness
Deckbuilder with vampires, this actually may end up being a game I play more of, but it just made me want to go play Ascension more.

Neoscavenger
This seems like a GREAT game, but it’s absolutely terrible on any size phone.

Iron Marines
This is good and works surprisingly well on the phone but, you will need to get your fucking face real close to the screen to play.

Out There
Sort of interesting, but it’s FTL basically and works well on the phone.

Lost Portal
I’m not dying to get to play a MTG clone, and Ascension is just better.

 

RPG – my favorite books of 2017

Here’s my list of my favorite RPG books of 2017.  Not all of these came out in 2017 though!  These are books that have been at my bedside table or working desk most of the year.

How to Write Adventures that Don’t Suck

This is a great book of essays on adventure design from a lot of the greats, with short adventures to go along with each essay.  Fantastic stuff!  All GM’s should have this one.

FASERIP

This is an OGL redux of the Marvel Heroes RPG from TSR that had a LOT of expansions and material that my brother and I basically ignored after getting and playing the yellow box set a few times.  We were CHAMPIONS kids and that meant pointbuild and brokenness and combat that took forever.  Frankly I wish we had looked at TSR’s superhero game at the time a bit more OR they had the common sense to realize that kids wanted to make their own characters!  Faserip has character creation (which I would dub semi random).  Also, this shit is FREE.

We got to play FASERIP once this year (thanks to Lordlobo) and I intend to run it soon.

Veins of the Earth

This is great shit-reading.  Probably one of the best shit-reading books to come out in long time.  While the campaign itself is nothing compared to World of the Lost or Better than Any Man (it’s more of a gazetter), it has oodles of weirdness and unique ideas for your OSR, D&D5e or even 13th Age campaign.  While not a fan of the author’s writing generally (“get to the fucking point man!” is the constant comment running through my head) this is worth suffering through the rough spots.  After purchasing the lackluster Deep Carbon Observatory, I thought this guy needed an editor and he got one when publishing Veins: it really helped.  Hopefully he can tighten up his tendency to overwrite and wordiness even further for the next thing he does because the bones of it this are fantastic.  Art is great.

Silent Legions

This is older but I just picked it up this year.  It is likely an essential book in any GM’s library (like Dungeon Dozens!).   Why?  This has one of the best world building generators I’ve come across for both modern and fantasy stuff.  Not only that, it has a unique adventure builder that, while set up to work in the Early Modern to modern settings, could be used in any Fantasy Universe as well.  And this fucking guy really can write!

Runner Up:

Vagina’s are Magic!

This is the new magic system for Lamentations of the Flame Princess!  People have a lot of work to do getting all the spells in line with the new set up, and this also means the game is no longer backwards compatible with old D&D (sorta).  What’s most important is the system brings it closer in line with DCC’s (and likely the new WFRP’s) magic systems which are superior to the vancian system in oD&D and 5e).

Happy Xmas 2017!

What we did last night is nearly unmentionable. We sat through the FULL 1.5 hour Star Wars Xmas Special. It was some sort of disturbing variety show in essence and it made the children nearly cry. I was waiting for Carol Burnette and Don Knots to show up any second! I barely remember it as a kid except for two things: confusion and disappointment. Despite the horrifying Special, the commercials were amazing. Tons off stuff about unions and manufacturing cars and ‘made in America’ things (including and ad for the ladies undergarment workers union). The things these people worried about happened and we’ve of course become a consumer nation and Xmas is the consumer orgasm of the year.


Sons of Anarchy board game

I was looking at Blood Rage’s successor: Godfather by CMON. Area control, destruction of business and gangsters, etc. Seems great but shit man it doesn’t fit the theme well. The 5 families in the movies had issues from time to time, but to constantly be in conflict would have sunk them all very quickly, especially since the gangs of New York had shrunk to a minuscule amount compared to the era of the Dead Rabbits and Native Americans who numbered in the thousands.  I was thinking it would need to be FAR closer to something like Republic of Rome or Dead of Winter, where you work together, have your own goals, but also have serous external threats that could sink everyone in the game. If the Sicilians wiped themselves out like portrayed in the Godfather game, we’d be watching ‘mafia’ shows centered around the Irish gangsters, Polish, Jews or Greeks or any of the post WW1 immigrant groups instead.

That said, if you’ve looked at Godfather and are interested in that type of game MUCH cheaper: have a look at Sons of Anarchy.  14$ on Amazon, it’s a steal currently (which probably won’t last) and after a single play so far, I can say it’s well worth that measly amount.  The components are solid, nothing felt cheap either in the plastic and none of the sturdy cardboard was de-laminated at all.

More importantly, the gameplay is smooth and gives interesting choices for the players.  You start with a gang of prospects and full gang members and have a goal of having the most cash at the end of six turns (cash is analogous to glory in Blood Rage except you can spend it).  The game has locations, randomized at the beginning of the game, that the gangs can exploit for guns or cash or contraband, but you have to be the only gang present to do so.  If other gangs are present you can bribe them to move out or duke it out on the streets.   Fighting can be as tame as just a barfight style beatdown, or the guns can come out which can, at the right moment, nearly wipe out an opposing (or even both gangs).  You have to balance your muscle and economy at all times, and attempt to get an economic engine going of areas that you persistently control.

Like Cosmic Encounter, each of the five gangs in the game break the rules in some way, such as not having to pay to move gang members to other locations during a throw down, or bonuses when you are the first player in a round.

Despite the almost immediate dismissal of a board game based on a show or movie, Sons of Anarchy is a solid area control game and the theme works well, as the biker gangs aren’t as concerned with ‘business’ as the Sicilians of the Godfather game would be, so the catastrophic violence seems quite a bit more appropriate.  The price (right now) is certainly right.

Monster Hunter World beta impressions

TL/DR: Good, possibly very good.

It’s been a LONG time since Monster Hunter has been on the consoles and we’ve been relegated to the DS to play it. It is an excellent series on the level of Torchlight and Diablo for it’s item management, customization and level of skill needed to play well.  The game was obviously a huge influence on Dark Souls (both at their core are boss-battle games) and the new version looks poised to bring everything that was great about the 3DS version into the modern graphic world of the PC and PS4.

First play was to kill off a fatty lizard thing. I was interesting only because it puked all over the place when you got a knock down on it. I was not able to get it mounted for more fun. The map this fatty is on has a winged T-rex thing wandering around, and if you draw aggro with both, you are going to be in trouble. I was not able to take down both of them in one go (killed the fatty lizard first and ended the scenario).

The second beasty is a rock lizard thing. It has a transform into some sort of bull-type creature and then retreats to a muddy area, and this is where things got good. Instead of swampy stuff just being poison, the mud area was very interesting as it had not only places that slowed you down, but places where you would actually get stuck and have to struggle out.

I’ve seen some other really cool things, like swinging on vines, monsters fighting each other, swinging with a grappling hook and somehow my Palico tied down one of the monsters for me to beat on. The environments are awesome and they still have the same FEEL as different ‘areas’ but there is no loading or break in between them. You can follow the monsters as they run away without hitting the loads, and that’s fantastic.

The game has a unique way of tracking the monsters with some sort of glowing flies that point you to clues where the monster is, such as footprints or ass-wipes on the ground. When you put attention to a clue, the flies point to the next one and when you get enough, they can point right to the monster. I thought this was fucking handholding at first because in the old game you had to hit the monsters with paintballs to track them when they fled, but it seems fairly decent. It is fun to track, but it’s also a bit more fun to get in the fights…

I didn’t see any mechanics yet for bombs or trapping monsters, but I’m sure that’s in there. Also you can’t really craft in the beta just yet– that’s a whole huge ball of complexity I still don’t fully understand in the old game anyway.

Color me impressed. I was hoping for a new version for the 3DS, but this is FAR better because I can play it with my friends on more common consoles and with these graphics? YEAH.  Lots of impressive stuff to look at here.  When this is out for PC, holy shit.

Great Quake Article

This got sent to me by multiple people , it is an excellent article on the development of Quake in 1995-1996.

There’s a lot of nostalgia articles about id around, but for this one I mostly I want to comment on Romero because really any non-technical article or discussion of Doom development or Quake development has to include stuff about him or frankly, it’s pretty boring.  At the time of Quake 2/3 there was a lot of hate on Romero about his alleged work ethic, playing games all the time, the Killcreek stuff and the general perception from the internet (mostly stuff on bluesnews) that he was fucking shit up all over the place, and then came Daikatana.

While all of these things may be true,  I beg to differ that it was detrimental in terms of the final deliverable of Quake, especially Quake (and Doom’s) deathmatch. This article confirms somethings people felt a few years after it shipped (no one really knew what was going on at id a the time of development), but if you read it, once the decision was made for it to be a FPS and not and RPG game, Romero helped make Quake beyond awesome, and part of that was his addiction to his own game.

JORTS!

While I like a lot of other First Person Shooters, Quake is still one of the most enjoyable free for all mutliplayer.  The engine is solid and it works extremely well with multiple players when they are all physically near each other– something that modern engines for FPS do not do.  That aside for now, I feel like the fact that Romero and American McGee played Deathmatch all day long when they were supposed to be ‘working’ actually made DM in Quake, Quake 2 and Quake 3 the absolute best it could be (yes I know Romero was gone after Q2).  Romero was more than a designer, he was the near ultimate consumer of his own creation, and for this, despite all the drama around him being let go from id, and the Diakatana debacle, was a critical component for the success of the game.  While I had dabbled in the Quake single player game, soon I was only playing CTF and DM and didn’t finish the SP for a year or so after it’s release, even though we played DM just about every day for 2-3 hours.   In fact, I cannot have imagined playing a game more fervently than we played Quake.  It was pretty much the focal point to everything we did for YEARS there– a bit after Quake 2 came out is when I started to go off the constant deathmatch (only to be revived again when Q3 came out).  And why was Quake’s DM so good and we still play it at every LAN? The tech of course, and american mcgee’s levels (the Bad Place for instance) but for the gameplay? I say Romero and his addiction to playing his own team’s games.