Gateway: Uprising: Deck-builder area control games

We played Gateway: Uprising the other night which is the third deck-building with area control mechanics mash up game I’ve played and figured I’d write a bit since this type of game has held my interest for a while.

After Martin Wallace’s A Few Acres of Snow, this type of game became a thing with follow ups of Mythotopia and finally A Handful of Stars.  Deck-building with area control is a very  interesting style of game for me, creating player controlled asymmetry like Ascension or Dominion, but with a physical area that is controlled or conquered by players as the game goes along (so they are not as boring as Ascension and Dominion…).  There’s a lot of potential for “wow, I’ve never seen that before” in these games as well as having actual player interaction during the game instead of none.

Gateway: Uprising is a game of various wizard-lead factions (like the Great Fish!) in this very strange city that is having some immigrant and crime problems.  Your factions is built from cards you acquire which are either support cards, merchant cards or army cards build out of the various smaller factions in the city.  Support cards are single play and discard as are merchants, but Army cards stay on the table until destroyed (and they are destroyed often!) at which time they get shuffled into your deck.  Your goal is to score more points than your rivals after time is up or take over all the regions of the city which is instawin.

Unlike Mythotopia/Handful of Stars, locations in Gateway do not become cards in your deck. I was rather surprised by this as the city locations in the game don’t seem to do much except get attacked! You could win the game by not setting foot in the city at all if your faction could pile up enough victory cards (runestones).   However, if a Wizard faction controls the entire city of Gateway, they win the game immediately, so other factions are forced all into the city to make sure no one gets control.

Another interesting twist with Gateway is that there are monsters that show up which can and will destroy the city if not dealt with, generated via an event deck.   So…. this is how the game gets it’s ‘co-op’ tag on the box. It is necessary for the players to work together in order to hold off the horrifying monstrosities that continuously attack the city.  Co-op though, it’s really not. When the monsters start to destroy the sections of the city, it is then easier for one faction to take the entire city over and fighting between factions intensifies.

One thing Gateway has in spades is SOUL.  The art (by concept artist Sean Murray) on the cards and the city itself is superlative and is some of the best I’ve seen in a game for awhile (Rising Sun and Blood Rage aside).  The artist obviously loves Ian Miller/John Blanche as the cityscapes on some cards look straight out of The Enemy Within!  Like Dungeon Degenerates, this is a game that could justify purchase on the weird art alone.

In contrast to the rather dry Mythotopia and Handful of Stars, the goals that your faction has (kill monsters, dominate the city, kill the city guards, kill off the other player’s army) are clear from the outset, unlike the sort of vague ‘go forth and get points’.  Players being able to instantly win with full board control in Gateway is another excellent aspect that obfuscates a bit of the point salad that is inevitable with these types of games.

Mythotopia and Handful of Stars have player’s controlled areas scattered across the map at the start of the game, forcing them to fight with others or neutrals in order to consolidate some sort of defend-able empire and score points.  Gateway: Uprising starts with the city in the game controlled by no one, and the gangs/factions have to stake claim to the board as they go.  I find this a superior method, especially since Mythotopia feels pretty messy when you first start out and you immediately ask yourself why on earth you, as a fantasy lord, would control areas scattered randomly across the country side like this?  You have no sense of your faction or loyalty or what you are trying to do—it doesn’t make much sense.  I chalk that up to Mythotopia being one of Wallace’s ‘mechanics tests.’  Handful of Stars feels a bit better in this regard since the board represents 3 dimensional space and you are an alien faction (with a special power) rather than a generic fantasy lord.  I think both the Wallace games would be better, albeit LONGER if they started the players with a single star system/region or off board to start the game.  This would be a major design change since resources to play and buy cards come from the regions/planets themselves.

The rules are OK, there are some gaps we found in the rules (like, if regions are destroyed, do they count against the ability for a faction to control the city? It never says), so you have to make some judgement calls.  Components are good but the big hexes are not cardboard, they are very thin card and get moved around easily.  

Anyway, Gateway is pretty cheap (I got it lightly used for 15$) and well worth having in the collection (the box is small too for those of you with limited shelf space). I like it better than Mythotopia, and about the same as Handful of Stars. Gateway is far easier to set up to play than HoS is though!

 

this is one crazy ass beast.

Aphex twin on 2019

This got posted to reddit.

2019 update
hessv ocfb, oizsb anl tzannieb, qcbt khekrino in tv annvcnke theze wiss je bvue tvtassf new aphex twin kcbtvu vmmikias siuitel elitivn lentczeb mvz base bvvn. bv dexino!

asbv in the pipesine ib the svno-awaitel “besektel aujient wvzrb 1.5” uetas kabbette, kl, dvuit-tintel dinfs anl uancas kiphezb (mckr lioitasb, anasvo vnsf, jajf). adaisajse mvz lvwnsval jf rinl seoas aozeeuent mzvu z+b zekvzlb inteznativnas dia uais vzlez vn uazkh 5th, 2019.

minassf, whise fvc’ze at it, bion cp mvz the cpkvuino rvzo “besektel aujient wvzrb 3”-theuel scbh 25 refb zvupsez rikrbtaztez with weizlkvze lebionel intezmake pzint! bfnth pzvozauuelel jf uf khinrf uate tatbcv ukwhatbhibmake. btzeet late ib qcsf 5th 2019, wiss je vmmezel with vptivnas 3 uvnthb siuitel wazzantf, pvwez bcppsf bvsl bepazatesf.

khekr vct uf scbh aphex twin wejbite mvz the vmmikias annvcnkeuentb, i lvn’t hade anf btzvno meesinob ajvct fvc btcpil twitb bv i wantel fvc tv je the 1bt tv rnvw.

qvfzex ib a kcnt, zellit bckrb lvnref likr, fvc’ze jeino jzainwabhel jf kheutzaisb. hade a happf 2019 anl oet kzakrino fvc bsaob!

eteznassf fvczb in pzibu anl jitkheb, pzitkhazl j bsaub

That is:

hello guys, girls and trannies, just checking in to announce there will be some totally new aphex twin custom official limited edition dentures for sale soon. so vexing!

also in the pipeline is the long-awaited “selected ambient works 1.5” metal cassette, cd, vomit-tinted vinyl and manual ciphers (fuck digitals, analog only, baby). available for download by kind legal agreement from r+s records international via mail order on march 5th, 2019.

finally, while you’re at it, sign up for the upcoming korg “selected ambient works 3”-themed lush 25 keys rompler kickstarter with weirdcore designed interface print! synth programmeded by my chinky mate tatsuo mcwhatshisface. street date is july 5th 2019, will be offered with optional 3 months limited warranty, power supply sold seperately.

check out my lush aphex twin website for the official announcements, i don’t have any strong feelings about you stupid twits so i wanted you to be the 1st to know.

joyrex is a cunt, reddit sucks donkey dick, you’re being brainwashed by chemtrails. have a happy 2019 and get cracking you slags!

eternally yours in prism and bitches, pritchard b slams

Shirigui DEATH FRENZY

I first saw this Anime on netflix years ago, watching only the first episode. We just had a kid and I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved at the time. You can tell from the first episode, it’s going to be a series that rewards close attention.  My first draw was that Shigurui looked like the art style of Ninja Scroll with some of the same animators and, of course, it is, which should tell you something about it’s quality.  For those of us that grew up with Ninja Scroll as the GOLD STANDARD (along with Akira) for Anime,  Shigurui is like Ninja Scroll all fucking grown up.

From the outset, I want to highly recommend this anime with almost zero caveats… maybe just two.  First, it’s very dark and violent along the lines of 13 Assassins but a bit worse. Second it is UNFINISHED.  There is no resolution to the entire story, as that would have taken most of a second season which was never made. You never get to see what happens in the end, which a tough pill as things are set up in the first episode for a climactic battle, yet most of the series is a flashback that never flashes forward again!  How can you get the full story? You have to read the manga. That said, while incomplete, this is a masterpiece of anime.

What’s is Shigurui about? Like the film 13 Assassins, the series takes place during a peaceful era after the ‘warring states’ period in Japan.  And again, like 13 Assassins, a relative of the shogun is a Daimyo of a province and a full bore psychopath, one who dreams of a more violent era, regardless of the fact that he lives in lazy splendor and can kill servants on a whim. At the beginning of the first show we see him getting his head lopped off in a seppuku ceremony– one in which he ONLY touches the fan–he isn’t even given the time to touch the fan to his abdomen as is traditional– the executioner just lopped his head right off!  So he must have done something more than raping and killing peasantry right?  Right.

We then have a first flashback to a one armed man and a blind man about to duel to the death in front of said Daimyo. They prepare to fight and then another flashback occurs when one of the men (the blind one, but no longer blind) steps into a dojo. The other combatant is there and neither have any injuries (yet).  The show moves on to show the rivalry of these two men at the dojo, but then turns into something very different towards the end.

Add to this the fact that the master of the Kogan-Ryuu dojo is  insane, and lies in a state of dementia for most of the show, however, he has massive parts in the series when he is in his right mind and is probably the most dangerous character in terms of ability to apply violence.

The show and manga has everything samurai you can imagine–various fighting styles, ‘magical’ or unlucky swords, western sword styles, rival schools. You know how Game of Thrones very much includes nearly every fantasy trope and most of the ‘fantasy’ races without being like a bad Forgotten Realms based Dungeons and Dragons movie?  Shigurui HAS all the samurai tropes, it just presents them in such a way–again, much like ninja scroll– that helps you forget that you are seeing/reading about the same old tired stuff that showed up during the ninja and samurai craze in the 80’s.

The meat of the show outside of the character development are the various fighting styles.  The fighting styles are extremely well detailed, and will have you thinking quite a bit about it as the learning of the two protagonists increases and they not only learn the secrets from the master, but come up with their own modifications and evolution to the styles.  Having read the manga, I can say that this continues well into the second half of the series and ends spectacularly.

One other thing I really like is that if you look up the series in google and do an image search, you cannot find out what happens in the final duel.  The manga author has many dream sequences and day dreams where BOTH of the main antagonists are show to be killed or terribly wounded during the final fight, so it’s impossible without reading the manga to get spoiled by the internet.  The picture you are looking at with the guy with one arm’s face cut off could be during the final duel, or could be a dream sequence.

The entire series is up on youtube.  The manga is a bit harder to get a hold of.

Gaming

The only mechanical system that would be able to handle Shigurui’s level of combat depth and manner of wounds, is, of course, Mythras.  Most of the sword fights are over in a SINGLE stroke, which is simply not possible with D20 systems that use hit points, nor WFRP, nor 13th Age.  Story games would not effectively simulate the fights without far to heavy narrative control: you may as well just play with action figures at that point rather than roll dice.

In Mythras, both of the protagonists would have over 100% in their relevant sword skills (in the Kogan style), and you would probably need to break out different weapons having different skills (such as the shorter sword, the longer katana’s, and the big honking club thing one of the characters uses, and two swords at once).

One other thing that may be difficult in any RPG, even Mythras, is that the Kogan-Ryuu sword school students NEVER parry.  This means that the swordsman that strikes at the higher strike rank and hits is going to need to score a heavy wound most of the time to not himself be killed, but vs another Kogan swordsman, he will get a special effect straight away since there is no parry.

In order to simulate the sword styles, I would give special traits when characters got to 90 %, 100% and finally 120% skill levels, so every style would have three traits.  These are usually only given once to an entire style in the core game, but it should not break anything to give more, especially at such high skill levels.

I would also recommend using the advanced range and distance rules.  There are a couple of the fights in Shigurui where the range is critical.  In fact the first Kogan style trait I would add at 90% mastery would be that the sword used counts as one level up in terms of weapon length.

Passions can also be very useful in this type of game, as they could boost combat skills in certain situations to god-like levels.  Getting close to 10% chance of a critical is scary– 14-17% is insane.   Anyway, a game with Mythras where on one wears armor and no one parries could be very interesting…

Mythras

Boob post

This is a post with boobs on it.   If you want to put boobs on the internet, don’t use a SERVICE like blogger, tumblr, twitter, G+, facebook or instagram– get your own domain, get blog software (much different than wix or some blog SERVICE) and then boob out all you want.  If you don’t want to use blog software, just code your own HTML pages. It’s really not difficult.

Otherwise your content isn’t your own, your followers aren’t your own, you can (and should) be censored based on the whims of the platform service you are on, and your information and your followers information will be sold and used for marketing.  If you use a free blogging service, you are their PRODUCT. 

Without further adieu….

 

Free WFRP 4 adventure

Night of Blood is a classic WFRP adventure and it’s free on Drivethru RPG.

I partially ran this one in college– the players didn’t take the bait due to ‘running away from some baron’s men’ factor and avoided the fun. There are many, many adventures influenced by this one, including 2-3 DCC ones I can think of off the top of my head that are now ALSO classics.

I haven’t picked up WFRP 4 yet, but it’s bound to happen eventually.

Shinobigami Modern Ninja Battle Game

The Shinobigami Modern Ninja Battle game final PDF just dropped for Kickstarter backers.  This is VERY late as we were supposed to have the printed book by now according to the original timeline.  SBGMNBG was going to go on my fucked kickstarter list for 2018 but for the fact that they released a playable draft in the original Japanese layout very early after the kickstarter, character sheets and the battle sheet– so you had what you needed to play, absolved them of being considered fucked.   Also, these are the guys that did Tenra Bansho Zero and Ryuutama, so this thing has been worth the wait.

So what the fuck is this game?  Shinobigami is a single session Japanese RPG by the Adventure Planning Service  produced in English by Kotodama Heavy Industries, where you play as a single ninja trying to fulfill their secret goals in some sort of scenario set up by the GM.  The closest games to it that I’ve played are Carolina Death Crawl and Hillfolk, but Shinobigami seems to have more of a board gamey feel to it than those.  There are a number of ’rounds’ and each round all characters and important NPC’s have a ‘scene’ which they control the start of the narrative and setting whether having a discussion or trying to fight someone.  This leads up to a climax scene where the remaining characters may be trying to take out a powerful NPC or free for all to fulfill their characters goals.  Yes, you read that right, RPG PVP, something very difficult to pull off well.

Your character has a bunch of ninja skills that can include stuff like Cooking, Torture or Apparel– all of which can be used to fight people because you are a ninja and everything you do can be deadly as fuck.  Characters also have the obligatory nimpo as well as a very powerful attack that can tear up anything but leaves the character super vulnerable later.

Combat ahhhh– I can’t really comment on it before actually getting stuck in as it’s quite strange, like Ryuutama, using an abstract board.

Needless to say, I’m fired up to run a game.  I hate reading rules on a screen/ipad and was going to wait until the book came out– which you may have to if you aren’t in on the kickstarter, but I may just print the damn thing out and get greased up.

While I think any multi-session or long term ‘story game’ is going to be a bust and end up super tiring and annoying (FATE, Dungeon World, etc.), these single or limited session games like Shinobigami, Feng Shui, Carolina Death Crawl, Tenra Bansho and Hillfolk are cooking with gas.  To me these story games are like going out to eat at a well-appointed restaurant.  You go once in awhile and it’s great but if you go too much it’s just a series of gastrointestinal issues such as sharting in Walmart, needing a manpon at work all day or just lying on the ground with constipation cramps even after drinking pickle juice.  No one wants that, regardless of the mouthfeels when you are bellied up to the slops.  What you want 95% of the time is just a simple home cooked meal and that’s DCC, D&D and it’s ilk, WFRP and Mythras (and yeah, if you can stand it, stuff like Rifts), but for that 5% of the time when you are bored of the lack of innovation in the OSR (imagine that…), or RPG’s in general and want to try something minty fresh– yet Tenra Bansho Zero looks like too much work to cook up–Shinobigami smells like pretty awesome eats.  It also will make Steve uncomfortable on account of the required improv.

Into the Odd character sheets!

This dude has done some FINE work here on some character sheets for Into the Odd*.  Pretty great for a system that only has four stats per character!  Click the image to go get them.

*don’t know what into the odd is?  It’s a unique little microlite that you can pretty much throw in your briefcase and play any time, anywhere.  Just add any one page dungeon and it’s pure gold.

Long Gamehole con 2018 post

Got to Gamehole con Friday and Saturday to good effect.   Yet, again I think it’s the best con in Wisconsin aside from Gary Con, which is great on account of it’s location in Lake Geneva and it’s focus on old school RPG’s (which includes the current incarnation of D&D).

The dealer hall was small, but had a good selection. There was one vendor that had superlative deals on board games (like you’d see on Amazon) and that was a feeding frenzy. I had to get out of there without spending anything, but my friend’s certainly did.

Friday was all board games, all damn day and it was great. I like to try stuff either from my collection or from other people’s that I haven’t tried before so that’s what we did.  Saturday we played Numenera for half the day and then got back into the board games.  ALL of my events were apparently cancelled so I wasted some money on those.  Michael Curtis’s DCC events were all gone, so that sucked.

First up was a co-op called Batman the Animated Series.  Most of the time I despise the co-op games and avoid them as much as possible on account of the quarterbacking issue and most of them are pretty boring after more than one or two plays.  This was a decent game.  Moved fast, was not super quarterbacky and we were playing with the designer (Mike) who did give suggestions on what to do, but he wasn’t like I would be if I knew the game (i.e.: terrible).    Actions are definitive and you can really do a lot of crazy stuff in order to meet the Act’s goals.  The buildings are neat but they block line of sight to the other parts of the city a bit if you are sitting down.  I could see this ‘engine’ being great for a game of alien invasion (say the Invid from Robotech) BUT where each player has a secret goal as well as the goal of saving the world to shut down any possibility of quarterbacking.

Matt caught Eric Lang walking around and talked to him about Rising Sun (a great game) and other stuff.

Saga of the Norsemen.  This is an area control point salad game.  I remember them playtesting this up at Game Universe a few years back.  This is not a bad game at all, but has some typos that caused MASS confusion when we first started (Chieftains are heroes or?? what).   Overall though I think this plays solid with enough people.  You try to influence the Viking countries (by having the most influence in each which is handled by card draws) and direct where they go viking so you can get the spoils.  I’m not sure who YOU are supposed to be in the game (an arms dealer? a viking god?).   Matt did not like this one all that much, but better than the next one.

Bunny Kingdom.  This is a drafting area control point salad.  In fact it is probably the ultimate in this type of game. I liked it at first but as the game wore on there was a lot of maths and then more maths.  There are people that will love this game– trying to squeeze out point here and there and set up comboes, but near the end of the game it was obvious the winner had been determined during the third turn and there was no catching up.  Neither of the other players dug this much.  Very EASY to play though.  This made me simply want to play Feudality by Tom Wham.

Next up was Victory Or Death (a Quartermaster General game).  I have a thing for the long, terrible war between Sparta and Athens which ended up completely pointless and could have destroyed Western civilization as we know it.  This game pits Corinth and Sparta vs the Delian League and Athens in the typical ‘card deck is your economy and war powers’ quartermaster game.  Needless to say, if you like 1914, you will dig this game.  I enjoy the theme a lot more despite the fact that I got my ass kicked as the Delian League/Athens vs Justin and Matt.  I do take consolation that the Spartans were terribly frustrated during the game with all of their attempts to do anything shut the fuck down, and it was Corinth that eventually took Athens.  The supply rules in this game are a bit difficult to grok, but the rest is very easy.  Excellent game.

Colt Express.  This is a Robo Rally type of game where you play as bandits trying to rob a train and shoot each other.  Theme is excellent and the components are very interesting.  It’s not a deep game, and I can’t see repeatedly playing this, but it was fun.  There’s a mcguffin that you pretty much need to get in order to win the game and that can be difficult to figure out at first.  I knocked the shit out of the holder of it multiple times, but couldn’t pop it out of his possession.  I’d play this again with the kids.

Fairy Tile.  I had my daughter with on Saturday and so we busted out some lighter fair.  This is a game where you try to move three pieces on a board in order for you to play cards from your hand. You have 10 cards and you win if you are able to play them all.  It’s a tricky little game that plays fairly fast.  I like the tri-hex board (I use that in my upcoming game as well) and the components, art and the miniatures are top drawer.  I can’t see playing this with adults much, but with kids– great.

Keyforge-this is our the game of the con.  They should have had a lot more decks/stuff available for people to buy instead of this pre-release BS!  This was at a game con for fucksakes four days away from the game’s release– just sell the stuff.  Anyway, we got some decks after the demo and were pleasantly surprised at how good it is. While the TYPE of game that it is is nothing really crazy, the fact that you collect DECKS instead of cards is something really special and frankly, sort of insane.  My kid said: “out of five stars the game is a six.”

I will be doing a post just about keyforge shortly after playing 10-20 times for the two readers of this blog that may think they want to buy it.

Shadowfist Updates

The new Shadowfist owners were at Essen and did a short interview with OneTableTop on the plan for the game.   Watch it here.

Don’t feel like watching? Here is the core info:

  1. Architects will have a preconstruct deck along with 3 other factions (not sure which but you can probably guess)
  2. There will be a kickstarter relatively soon.

So yep, until that kickstarter launches, Shadowfist is still dead, but the moment it does hit, let’s see what happens.  I backed the last kickstarter on account of the archies being back in the game so the new one will be no different.

We will be watching this closely!