A Game of Reviews

Well who left the door open? Just about anyone could walk in here and leave a review, I’ll just close the… actually, since I’m here I could probably leave a review… just a little one… since Shmee’s busy with other things…

I’d be doing him a service. He’ll thank me later.

Over Memorial Weekend the family Paladin traveled south to that terrible place of bridges and confusing freeways, Portland, OR. To pass the time my brother taught us three new games you might like to check out yourself.


The first is The Resistance: Avalon or as I like to call it Mafia with fancy cards. It goes by other names as well, such as Werewolf or The Resistance since all of these games are the same basic mechanics. It’s a party game, so you need 5-6 people to make it fun. To begin players are given role cards, telling them they are loyal followers of Arthur or evil servants of Mordred. Only the servants of Mordred know each other while the rest of the table devolves into paranoia and fear. The goal is for either group to complete three quests, with the servants of Mordred playing fail cards and just generally being sneaky. You learn a lot about the people you play with, like my wife and brother are not to be trusted – EVER and that my sister will always suspect my brother even when he’s done nothing wrong. I had fun playing this game, but I’m not sure I can recommend it since you can play Mafia for free with just a deck of cards (rule http://www.princeton.edu/~sucharit/~mafia/oldmafia/rules.htm from Princeton no less!). Avalon does add some extra role cards like the Merlin card, but I didn’t feel like they added much to the game to make this a must buy. If you like nice themed cards with printed rules instead of a deck of playing cards and rules passed down via oral tradition then Avalon is a great game, I just like free.


The second game is Love Letter and it’s fabulous. It’s one of the few games my wife has walked away from and said we should buy (this has only happened like twice so it’s a big deal). In Love Letter you are trying to win the favor of the Princess by outmaneuvering your opponents. You start with one card and on your turn you draw a second one; now you must decide which one to play, weighing things like using the lowest pointed Guard card to guess at one opponent’s hand or go big with the higher point Prince forcing another opponent to draw a new hand but leaving yourself exposed. You can get knocked out of the game almost right away and while this can seem super unfair, yet in reality you’re hardly out of it for long since most rounds lasts five minutes and you are going to be too busy to notice because you’re watching how the whole thing turns out. Love Letter is going into our collection and it should be joining yours as well.


The final game is Marvel Dice Masters: Avenger vs. X-Men, a mouthful of a title for a game with a mouthful of dice. MDM:AvXM is a collectable card game (CCG) that uses Marvel’s famous superheroes like Captain America, the Hulk, and Wolverine. Each hero has their own flavor and powers that they add to your team of six cards, but most importantly they give you a set of themed dice. I loved rolling Storm’s clear blue and Hawkeye’s purple dice to gain dominance over my brother’s yellow and red Iron Man and black themed Nick Fury. The other great part about the dice is there is no bad roll, you can reroll or use what you got in different ways – allowing a guy like me who can consistently roll 1’s to not be frustrated that the fates have abandoned me. The rules can be a little daunting when you start, so it helps to play with someone who knows what’s going on or to set aside an afternoon to play several games and experiment. The other downside is this game is super popular and has sold out almost everywhere. I think I picked up the last copy in Bellingham the other day, so you can either pay $50 online or wait for the $15 second printing. It’s a fun two player game, with lots of strategy, and more importantly dice so I recommend it.

Whew, this review stuff is hard. I’ll just sneak out. This can be our little secret, OK.

No, seriously don’t tell him.

Third Run in Shadowrun


Last night was my group’s third campaign in Shadowrun, and it went pretty well.  I think the main reason for its success was the source book I used called Ghost Cartels.  It centers around a new drug being traded in Seattle called tempo.  It gives non-magic users a little taste of what it is like by being able to see peoples auras, and being able to see the plane that all magic users have access too.

Ghost Cartels starts you out as low level street spies, and that is the part of the book we played last night.  The real bonus is that there is a lot more to do, and the book is very flexible on what you can do and how you do it, so if you are crafting your own campaign you can use this to supplement it.

Just like always the game is most fun when you are playing with a bunch of people that just want to have a good time, and forgive the multitude of mistakes made by the GM.

Is Warhammer 40,000 fun?


My friend Todd Fadden got me in to a little game called Warhammer 40,000 (or 40k), and by little I mean huge.  It is a miniatures game, meaning you buy little bits of plastic or metal, and then glue them together, and then paint them, and then you have to develop a strategy, and then after all that, you get to play a game for about an hour and a half.  It is also a ton of fun.

There are a ton of different factions to choose from.  You can be space bugs, space orcs, space marines, space elves, and tons more, those aren’t the official names of the groups but they are easier to understand.  I have been building a group based of the space marines called the Space Wolves, and if I was good at the painting, they would look like this:


Maybe if you are nice I will take a picture of my guys for you someday.

As with all geeky games, Warhammer 40k has very complex rules and every faction has its own subset of the rules, but what it comes down to is that you compare spread sheets and roll a bunch of dice, and argue about whether the units have line of sight or not.  It is very fun.

Now for the not so good part.  The maker of this game, Games Workshop, has started jacking the prices of the miniatures, and they weren’t cheep to begin with, so the only affordable venue is to buy them off EBay, but that can get frustrating if people aren’t selling what you want, or someone else snakes your units (in my case probably guys ridding giant wolves) out from under you, and then once you get them you have to paint them, so it requires a ton of time.

But all that being true, the game is fun, and it possibly one of the geekiest games in this word.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have to check on some EBay bids.

Second Run in Shadowrun!


The boys and I got together for another shot at the Table Top RPG Shadowrun.  The good news is that we are getting better at it; the bad news is there is still a lot to learn.  As we play we are still digging through the rule books quit a bit, but I think we are finally getting the hang of things.  As the GM (Game Master) it is my job to know the rules backward and forward but I seem to lack the ability to keep everything straight.

Shadowrun has so many ways to solve issues due to the verity of skills the players can have, half of the GMs job is just to roll with the punches, and work with the ideas that your players are throwing at you, and not punishing them for their creativity.  Thankfully Daniel, Andy, and Shawn always kept me on my toes and are forgiving of my errors.

I do want to give a shoot out to the store DriveThruPRG.  They have some great tools and campaigns that make running any table top game, let alone Shadowrun, much easier.  I got my campaign On the Run there and it really helped having pre-made NPCs (non player characters) and bad guys ready to go.

If you have never played a table top RPG you should give it a shot.  They are a lot of fun, and it is a great way to hang out with your friends, provided they have an active imagination.

First Run in Shadowrun!


A few of my buddies, Andy, Shawn, Daniel, and I, got together to play the table-top RPG Shadowrun.  For those that don’t know what a table-top RPG is, think D&D or geeks; actually both.  So pretty much it is a bunch guys getting together, rolling dice, checking off spreadsheets, and following/creating a story with characters that they have created for this game.  If your thinking that sounds awesome, it was.  If your thinking, wow nerd overload, then this probably isn’t for you.

Shadowrun takes place in the near future, but the twist is that at the end of the Mayan calender that magic as released in to the world, so now it is full of, Elves, Dwarves, and what-have-you.  Also the future is now run by Mega Corporations that use governments as their pawns (so that part is pretty spot on), and ‘Runners’ are their mercenaries that carry out missions for them. So we as the players take the roles of these runners.

Shadowrun was a little daunting at first, due to the sheer amount of customization you can do with your character.  Every gun, item of clothing, in game knowledge, skills, and pretty much everything else can be tweaked, but once I got the basic stats down it became a little easier.  We also took awhile just to figure out how to play the game, like hit an opponent, and how much damage you do and or take, and since the rule book is 348 pages long, you can see why it took awhile to get it all down. To be fair to the book, there are a lot of examples and short stories in it, so it is not all rules.

But once it got going it was a lot of fun, and like most of these games the reason for that is mostly due to the company you are with.  Having a good time will pizza and pop, and little trash talking.  I hope we get to play again soon.