The Paladin’s PAX Wrap Up

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Like Shmee I also attended PAX West, formerly Prime, and like him I came away with a few games to recommend. While there really wasn’t a game of show for me in either the Board Game or Video Game categories, there were some interesting and fun games you should check out for yourself.

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911 Operator by Jutsu Games out of Poland made me upset, not because it was difficult or controversial. No, I was upset because I was on the phone with a guy who had cut off his leg, begging me to tell his wife he loved her, while the stupid ambulance driver took his sweet time navigating Seattle’s streets probably trying to find a Starbucks first. 911 Operator felt frantic, but meaningful and I was proud at the end of the demo that no one died on my watch – not even one-leg guy.

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Lightspeed Frontier was a fun little game in the IndieMEGABOOTH by Crowdwork Studios. I had fun flying around in this procedurally generated, rouge-like game (Shmee’s favorite genre right now). Plus I rammed another ship, killed it, and impressed the devs who were cool guys. You can download the demo now, so give it a try.

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The final game I’ll talk about is Identeco a Cyberpunk RPG that is now in Beta by Humanoid Games. We played this and it was a lot of fun. Thematically its similar to the RPG Shadowrun, just less grim and without the fantasy elements of Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, or Magic. Mechanically it felt a little more like D&D with a little more meat to it. I enjoyed our playtest and was impressed with the system. I suggest you download their Beta and give it a try yourself.

Some honorable mentions would be Cowbots and Aliens (which Shmee talks about in his post) and Ice Cool, a fun dexterity game with penguins.

Course there is so much more that goes on at PAX; panels, events, swag, and just being with friends, bro. Most of it would be hard to explain without context or not being in a sleepless state kept awake by energy drinks. Still, I plan to go back next year to plumb the depths and come back with more great games to try.

PAX West 2016 Wrap-Up!

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Another PAX West (formally PAX Prime) has come and gone, and I am exhausted.  There is so much to see and do that it just overwhelms the senses.  Every show that I have gone to is different, and this year was mostly about just hanging out with my friends.  One big reason for that was the huge indie game presence at PAX, and a lot of them were similar, so nothing really stood out.  Indies are usually well represented at PAX, but this year they were everywhere.  Word to the wise for all you indie game creators out there: if your new game features the terms rougelike or procedurally generated, your game had better be amazing.  There are like eighteen million (not exaggerating) procedurally generated rougelikes out there and they are all pretty much the same.  They are not bad, but just not good enough to care about.

Which is why the only indie game that I really ended up enjoying was an old school four player party game called Death Squared from SMG Studios.

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In Death Squared each player tries to move their cube to their colored circle.  Once all cubes are on their circle the ‘room’ is complete.  The problem is by moving your cube you are causing problems for the other cubes, so you all have to work together.  It is so simple, but so well executed.  This looks to be a must buy.

For board games I was starting to feel the same way that I was feeling about indie games.  They all have different settings, but in the end they are pretty the same three or four games.  However it took a trivia game called America by Bezier Games to prove me wrong.

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I generally am not a big fan of trivia games, but America’s excellent design makes it a ton of fun.  Pretty much there are three tracks for every question: the State the question takes place in, the year the question happened, and the amount of something in the question.  You get more points for getting it right, but if you are close you get points too.  That way even if you don’t know the answer you can guess based on whether you think other people know the answer or not.  It is great.

Like I said above with this year kind of being different it took a while for me to come up with a game of show, but I ended up picking Cowbots and Aliens.

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This game saved VR for me.  Every VR experience I have had thus far has been kind of so-so.  Some of it has looked cool, but none of the games have been better because they were in VR.  Cowbots and Aliens by Wizard Games Inc. was different.  It puts you in a saloon where you can use anything in the room as a weapon.  You can flip tables, deflect bullets with spittoons, break bottles over counter tops, you know pretty much everything you have ever wanted to do in the wild west while fighting an Alien Squid.  It was a blast.

The best panel by far was Telltale’s group play of Batman.

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It was so fun to control Batman with a thousand other people.  If you have not picked up their Batman yet, you should.  Like everything they do it was well done.  I can’t wait to play the rest of this great game.

That was pretty much my PAX West, and while I will need a few days to recover, I can’t wait until next year to do it all over again!  I wonder what PAX West 2017 will be like?

Shmee Watched The Skies And Survived Neptune’s Fury!

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Team Japan filed their immigration paperwork and became Team UK for Bellingham MegaGame’s second Watch the Skies event.  This time subtitled: Neptune’s Fury.  You can see how British I am now since I am smoking a pip and holding a blue teacup!  I was curious how much would change between the two games, and I am happy to report quite a lot!

The basic gameplay mechanics didn’t change that much, so I am not going to go back over them (my link to my first game is here and The Paladin’s is here), but the teams playing sure did.  This time people went in to the game with their eyes wide open.  Everyone had agendas and schemes they wanted to accomplish.  This made the game much more fun since we were constantly trying to figure out what was going on.  So much so that the Aliens were secondary for much of the game.  Another big change was that we all shuffled our roles, so this time I was no longer in charge of Science, but I had instead been promoted to Prime Minister!  Well until Brazil assassinated me for selling them bogus tech, and then my second in command took over the country and I became a totally different person who was appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

The Prime Minster is an odd role.  Because while you are in charge of everything, you also know the least.  The other countries’ leaders are all lying to you, and your own teammates can only relay a bit of what they are gathering in their specific areas, but they don’t have enough time to do it thoroughly.  It is like being the center of a giant game of telephone while throwing money at people.  Being the Deputy Prime Minister on the other hand is crazy because you can go anywhere and do anything.  Your legs ache from all the running around, but at least you can find out what is happening for yourself.  Like that all the Scientists are creating their own country.

With so many teams having so many things going on it is still hard to explain all that happened, but I am happy to report that the UK, despite being attacked by a giant monster, London getting nuked by the US via France, and of course myself getting assassinated, end up pretty dang good:  The people were mostly happy; We launched an aircraft carrier in to space Battleship Yamato style; We kicked those American jerks out of the UN, and then our Chief Scientist started his own country only to leave them to return to Britain and declare himself the King since we all decided to go to space and take the Queen with us.  Enjoy your nuked castle!!!!  We have all of Space!  Long Live The Space Queen!

I guess what I am saying is, if there is a MegaGame going on near you, you should attend.  If you have already played the game you should still go because not only will the controllers change up the story, but a different role not to mention different players totally change the game.  It is a ton of fun.  If you don’t believe me you can read The Paladin’s experience here.  Oh and here is me being the best Prime Minister ever, you are welcome:

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Shmee Explores The Living Dungeon!

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The Living Dungeon by RadiationBurn is a great strategy board game that you just happen to play on your PC or Xbox One!  So it is perfect for people like me who love to play complicated board games but hate to clean them up.  Hurray for games for lazy people!

The way The Living Dungeon works is you get five dice that have different actions on them: like move, attack, jump, ranged attack, and then some very special ones like spin a board piece or maybe flip the board piece to change up the dungeon completely.  These five dice are the actions you are allowed to complete during your turn.  So each person takes turns rolling dice and moving their characters.  The Dungeon Master (DM) also has dice, but his have actions to move or add monsters, give special action cards to players, or change up the board even more.  The image below kind of shows what I am taking about:

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What is great is that you can either have the computer play the DM or let a friend do it to let him screw with you.  It is also fun to trade off being the DM so everyone has equal opportunities to be a jerk.  A lot of people can play The Living Dungeon at one time too with local multiplayer for up to nine, eight standard players and the DM, but it is still fun with less than that or against AI opponents.  On top all of the multiplayer content there is a single player component too, but it is the same game with a story attached.  Fun for if you can’t get any friends to come and visit.  It is a shame this game doesn’t have online play because it would be a great way to kill a few hours with random strangers or friends that hate to drive.

The Living Dungeon is not without issues.  For one the camera: it seems like it is always flipping around, and sometimes it is pointed in just the perfect way to get you killed.  It really needs a top down view.  Another is how actions are selected.  When you pick a die to play the character will automatically have the action ready to go, but they are generally going to do it the wrong way, so accidentally pressing a button to quickly has disastrous consequences, and of course there is no way to back out of the action once you have committed to it.

These small issues aside, The Living Dungeon is a lot of fun, and a great game to pick up if you love board games, or strategy video games for that matter.  These small games are why the indie game scene is so important.  Something like this would never come out of a major publisher.  If you have an Xbox One or a PC you should give The Living Dungeon a look!