As a follow up to last week’s post on the old school cRPG’s, Spiderweb Software has announced yet another title in their growing line of Ultimaesque RPG’s: Avadon:The Black Fortress. Though the creator make a big deal of not wasting a lot of time on new graphics, the screenshots from this one look a good deal better than their predecessors. Again, given the fact I have about 45 minutes per day to devote to playing any sort of game, and can’t even get through my borrowed copy of such proletariat gruel as Dragon Age Origins, it will be decades before I am able to play, much less review any of these games, so again, I lean heavily on my single reader, who is also a contributor, to pen a review of this when it comes out, in the fullness of time.
Europe and South America, separated by a vast ocean coming together to see who is better at England’s game. Spain is looking good as usual from Europe, Argentina seems to be the favorite overall at the moment, but I have Spain/Brasil picked in the final on my bracket with the proponents of the beautiful game FTW (that would be Brazil). However, I love the current Spanish style of play and would love for them to go all the way. Teams that may shake up the standard teams in the final for in my humble opinion would be USA, South Korea, Ghana, Greece and because it’s home turf, South Africa cannot be discounted.
Though we won’t see this in the states for quite long time, King of Fighters 13 is looking solid. Adding the girl’s team and K’ team to the roster among a few others. Still no Choi Bunge, Chang, Eji or Billy though–where are all the bad guys?
With pretty much everyone I know that plays Shadowfist moving to the four corners of the country and beyond, it’s been tough to keep the faith–even with my whirlwind of playing during Gencon every summer– it’s just not enough! So thanks to everyone that got in on the 5 or so games we threw down this week.
That said, it’s still difficult to even discuss getting new players into a game like this except casually. There has to be massive trepidation on anyone’s part who remembers the 90’s around getting into a CCG for any reason– even one as fun and accessible as Shadowfist. Even if someone hands a new player a deck and a shoebox full of cards, if you want to really get into it, it’s still shockingly expensive compared to board-gaming and even miniature gaming. New expansions cost around 120$ to get a full set (with the commons and uncommons you need to flesh it out) and the search for various rares can get both frustrating and expensive.
The advantage of Shadowfist is that, unlike Magic, cards have become more powerful as the years and expansions go on– most early cards that are difficult to get have either been eclipsed by new cards or have been reprinted: this is the exact opposite of Magic, where the most powerful cards are never reprinted. Rares, typically, are cards that you only need one or two of unless you are building something really weird so though you may chase down Ting Ting (‘The’ chase card until her reprint in 2001)– you really only need 1-2 copies if you are building a single deck around her (which MANY people have). I run out of cards while making decks a lot (mostly uncommons) but I have 20+ decks lying around, I can’t imagine playing the game focusing on just one faction, or just a couple of decks– but that’s what new players are faced with: it’s prohibitively expensive to collect to a level where you are focusing on multiple factions in relation to the current big deal: boardgames.
So every worm turns and eventually people will probably get back into the CCG’s a bit as a gaming culture, but probably long after we stop seeing Yugioh packs in Walmart. Magic, while I have no interest in the game itself, is keeping the faith by it’s tenacious continued existence. Back in the day–well, 90’s, there were miniature gamers that had no qualms about dropping a shitload of cash (and time) on their armies and a lot of that attitude translated to the CCG’s when their time in the sun came. The issue I see going forward with the board game crowd is that a gaming group collectively can amass a gigantic board game collection for fractions of the cost to truly get into a CCG. A single boardgame may not get even near the play of a CCG, but since there are so many boardgames owned by a group, there’s a ton of variety.
However my favorite type of game– multiplayer asymmetrical strategy– is without a doubt represented best by CCG’s to the point where nothing else comes close to the richness and myriad of choices, situations and metagame. Even my favorite asymmetrical board games feel like short, clipped experiences compared to the metagame analysis, deck building, tweaking and then (the best part) playing a muliplayer CCG. Though boardgaming is the rage right now, and people poo poo even the very idea of a CCG due to the perception of predatory pricing and rare card modelling (especially in the case of Magic) I think it’s an amazing form of gaming that captured the gaming world’s attention for more than a decade right when the time of the computer and console game was coming into it’s own as a form of entertainment bigger than television.
Though I won’t sing a lament for games such as Rage, Blood Wars or Arcadia, there are a few CCG’s whose awesomeness as the ultimate experience in multiplayer asymmetrical strategy games cannot be denied, Shadowfist being the hands down best but Jyhad, Doomtown and Legend of the Burning Sands /Legend of Five Rings are in the ranks of praise as well.
While I vehemently disagree with the pen and paper RPG resurgence these days that focuses on using antiquated and outdated rule sets from the 1970’s as if they were even mildly comprehensible, some of the best Computer RPG games came from the mid to late 1990’s when the technological constraints allowed developers and artists to get into a 2d groove before everything had to be 3D with explosions to sell to the public. Two companies (that I know of) are still pushing these types of games out and while I’ve just touched on the demos of each, I found them far better than the “how could I have lost interest if it’s supposed to be so awesome” Dragon Age.
The first company is Basilisk Games, creators of the oddly named Eschalon and Eschalon 2 and who’s mission statement is: Our mission is to produce compelling old-school computer role-playing games for gamers who still rememberwhat great computer RPGs used to be about…
The second is Spiderweb Software, creators of both the Avernum and Geneforge series. Being founded in 1994– this is a company that simply never stopped making the 2D cRPGs.
Since my single reader of this blog has a bit more time than I do for gaming, get going and get me a review to post!
Looks like around Xmas we’ll be looking down the barrel of an AT-Gauss gun at the next addition of AT-43, Rackham’s excellent futuristic miniatures game that has had a really rocky road so far what with the deluge of cheap miniatures on the market and a hap-hazard release schedule typical of Games Workshop back in their glory days. Don’t have a link but I’m sure glad I didn’t spend a lot on the rule books/faction books as I assume all of those will get updates we get to pay for.
4th Edition D&D is really a board game. It has a lot more in common with Descent, Warhammer Quest, Heroquest and the like than say, Paranoia or Vampire the Masquerade. That said, 4th edition is quite a bit closer to the original D&D games from back in the day: i.e.: extremely combat with miniatures focused. With the release of 4th edition, I was shocked that the ‘starter’ set was a few books and some chits and dice in a box rather than a massive box filled with miniatures (prepaints or not) and lots of hard cardboard dungeon tiles a la the British Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Board game (only available in England). That starter set would have been cooking with swamp gas.
Well now Wizards is finally getting on the warhorse and is planning to release Castle Ravenloft D&D Board Game and guess what it looks like? Descent!
Rarely can I make it through any review, or even basic commentary, on G4, but the X3: Reunion writing team gave G4 a massive payload of ammunition to drop on the audience during their review of the game.
To begin, let it be known throughout the lands that I’m extremely skeptical of any Space Strategy games these days.*
Matrix Games has recently put out two space strategy games, Distant Worlds by Code Force and Armada 2526. Distant Worlds is another go at the RTS/4X genre muddle and has most piqued my interest since it’s release in March. Yet, not enough to actually buy it. It has ship design, a MASSIVE galactic map and pretty sweet graphics for it’s suite of earth animal-influenced alien races. Here are a couple videos that may pique your interest as well– and if it’s enough to actually buy it… please let us know.
Exploration (with a shot of the massive galactic map)
*After Master of Orion 3’s cascade of space piss into my open mouth a few years back, I lost hope in the genre as, almost by design, the games kept getting worse and worse from the high point of Master of Orion in 1993, Ascendancy in 1995 and Emperor of the Fading Suns in 1996. Since the heyday, we’ve had the mediocrity of Sword of the Stars, a mess of what are really RTS games that, while OK for RTS games, fail to really hit the mark with the 4X turnbased crowd (Homeworld, Hegemony and Sins of Solar Empire) as well as the excellent but multiplayer-only Ultracorps.
What’s more, the game series that is considered the current king of Turn Based 4x Space strategy games: Galactic Civilization is such an incredible rip-off of Civilization 3/4 that I consider it simply a graphics swap rather than a new game. The galaxy in Galactic Civilizations, like Civ 4, is just a big flat map with planets (cities) that you move your units on. Sometimes in Galactic Civilization there are asteroid fields (forests) that slow down your movement. What’s worse it’s not a ‘globe’ like Civ so managing a big empire, multiple fronts on a big flat map is even more tedious than Civ. That said, please note that it is with a mountainous level of distrust that I even mention any current 4X space games on this blog in light of the simple question: are they better than the original Master of Orion? If not– why would anyone bother? Better graphics? who cares. Better interface? Really? Is that even possible? Seriously: you can have the best 4X game, plus it’s almost good sequel, for 6$. Keep that in mind with this and any subsequent posts on this subject.