Parent's basement finds

While the amount of stuff in my own basement that I’ve lost track of continuously grows, the amount of stuff in my parent’s basements diminish by the year as they pawn off boxes and furniture with random drawers filled with gaming erm… jewels.  This weekend I ransacked my dad’s basement and here is what I dragged out of darkness.

Swords and Spells

While I’m a big fan of the D&D as the wellspring from which most gaming today flowed, the game itself has a history of pretty terrible rules, many of which exist in the nether realms of these small books from back when I was in kindergarten. This little book could be the very reason Games Workshop decided to make Warhammer Fantasy Battle back in the day as the rules are really just that bad: and to think, I actually played this as part of some early 80’s D&D campaigns.  This will probably sit in my basement shitter for a month or so and then get put away along with all the other old D&D stuff.

Ah Paranoia–an RPG with near 100% death rate for the Player Characters during any given SESSION, let alone a campaign. Sure sure, there were 6 clones of the PC’s each, but that basically meant that no campaign could go more than 6 sessions for fear of the entire cadre of characters being wiped out. It was fun and a refreshing change from dungeon crawling or being driven insane by elder things back in Jr. High, and this is certainly the best edition. Like many of my boxed games hidden away in dark recess of my basements, this came with some extras. In the bottom of the box looks to be the complete chit-set from the Ogre influenced Battlesuit game as well as a mess of stand up cardboard armies from Steve Jackson.  I’m assuming they were used to represent the characters during their ill-fated adventures.

The reason for my delve into the dank basement over the weekend was to search for a copy of the original Squad Leader, which I remember seeing in someone’s attic/basement/shelf back in the 80’s. While Panzer Leader is really not what I was looking for, I grabbed it anyway. It had a touch of mould on the box, but everything else looked great for it’s age and the counters are surprisingly high quality compared to today’s games. In addition, the extras include a chrome-plastic Transformers weapon, a few cavalry figures from THIS comic book ad, a staff from one of the lava dudes from Crystar the Crystal Warrior, a mess of counters for some Napoleonic SPI game and what looks to be the Dark Tower dragon (with his base broken off).

All in all, some great and terrible finds.  Sadly I could do the same sort of crap hunt in my own basement and be just as surprised.

Cinderella Story– with horse archery!

Mount and Blade: Warbands released today, continues onward from humble beginnings into a major release that hopefully has the Elder Scrolls/Dragon Age/Gothic/Fable creators a little nervous as this tiny indy developer has shown HOW TO PROPERLY DO THIRD PERSON WEAPON COMBAT.  Need we say more?  Demo to level 7 but you know deep in your heart that you need the full version.

This is what it’s all about people:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V30tyaXv6EI

More replacements for HOMM 3

Anytime anything even remotely resembling Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is a whisper out the gas-bag of the game industry I pester my brother, let’s call him Mat and my other friend, let’s call him Steve, and embarrassingly enough, yet another friend, let’s deem him John, to TRY SOMETHING NEW as they have been playing HOMM3 whenever the mood hits them for countless years now.  While I see the kitsch value the graphics are far worse than HOMM2 and the gameplay is so tired it’s rumplestilskin’s ileus.  It’s impossible for me to believe that someone hasn’t done it better.  As the years go by and my recommendations are thoroughly ignored by all but John who briefly dabbled with Dominions 3 (granted it was still for probably over 100 hours), I start to think– fuck I still love Master of Orion 1 the best– is it possible that no one has captured whatever shit-magic these fallen friends see in HOMM3?  But I digress as this post is to chronicle yet another HOMM-like recommendation that will be completely ignored: Disciples 3: Renaissance.  On or near July 15th here is the conversation that will happen regarding this blog post:

Steve: remember that post Mute made about that Homm game? The one with the weird art?

John: mraak

Mat: No.

Steve: I thought about trying it but I just forgot and then when he asked about it we laughed at him.

Matt: yeah.

Up the ASL

I spent 30 minutes Wednesday night rearranging AT-43 army lists and setting out the minis as board game night was just two this week.  Yet, instead of the gorgeosity made pre-painted plastic and massive 3-d Space Hulk terrain boards (good job Mouth), my friend wandered around my basement perusing my collection of games until I opened a random drawer and said: “Hey, how about ASL?” half jokingly.  I winced when he said “OK!” without hesitation.  “ASL The premier game system of tactical-level World War II combat uniquely combines soundness of design with attention to detail and ease of play.”  The last part?  Really?  The last time I tried to play, we stopped after the first Defensive First Fire phase (i.e. about 10 minutes into the game for experienced players after set up) and my head was spinning.  While both of us that tried it that first time are hardcore miniature gamers and myself (embarrassingly) have played hundreds of hours of Close Combat from Microsoft, we just didn’t get it– not in the least.  The rulebook sat in my basement shitter for about a year and was perused here and there with still not even the gleam of understanding. Then it went back in the box for an undetermined length of time until last night when, hand in hand, were able to ditch the mental flaccidity and get straight up inside the ASL.

Adding a few beers, a general disregard for the minutia of the rules and just rocking through the phases allowed both of us to get the game-at least on a high level, without support weapons, using a scenario with low counter density, and making constant, probably game changing, rules mistakes.  What’s more, we were both able to see clearly why the game of ASL has survived for going on 2 decades: it’s fucking good.  The array of extremely painful choices you have to make during the game are astounding and even the most basic scenario we played gave us a deep colon of tactical depth to plum.  It basically starts with a few American squads in the middle of a town as the Germans advanced through the woods to the south, then reinforcements come on the battlefield,  squads run to wood buildings in the town and shoot at each other, then some run away and a few are eliminated. That’s it.  How could cardboard pieces on a piece of colored cardboard compare to something like Company of Heroes? I’ll tell you:  tension, almost ZERO down time (this is key) and a really elegant means of determining LOS and fire modifiers made a scenario that we had played in tons of different games since Saving Private Ryan came out uncannily compelling.  I’m not sure what it is, but I want to bend back the rulebook and get up inside the ASL again.

Crackdown 2 multiplayer sneak peek

Yeah, I really don’t like linking to IGN because they do their reviews without actually playing the games, but I’ll make an exception with the Crackdown 2 multiplayer sneak peak.  Now, Crackdown is one of those awesome not so great games.  That is, no one is going to call the original a great game, but it was good exceedingly fun just to run around an open world blowing shit up without all the GTA bullshit (people calling your cell constantly in game, actually having to drive cars: bleh)–it just had some rough edges and was a lot of the same all the way through.  The new one looks to be more of the same: good, not great, but real fun stuff.  Looking forward to it.

The end of the greatest blog in human history

I asked a friend many moons ago what the best web-navigation was and he immediately said: “A small picture of a hot chick that leads to a big picture of a hot chick.”  This is an eternal truth that I have used in client meetings, internal design reviews and user experience discussions ever since, going as far as asking a client: what is YOUR hot chick?  That said, there was one blog out there that I just stumbled across one afternoon that is the absolute essence of this statement: because that’s ALL it is.  After 5 years, the man responsible decided to call it quits, or, at least that’s what google translation tells me since it’s entirely in Japanese. Sad.