Archive for August 2015

Swords & Strongholds: A Game of Mouse Strategy

Isn't that one gorgeous piece of art?

Isn’t that one gorgeous piece of art?

Another acquisition made at Gen Con was Swords & Strongholds. I will confess that I purchased the game blindly based on my love for the comics by David Petersen and the tremendous production values on the Mouse Guard role playing game produced by Luke Crane. Petersen’s art remains stellar and the game box itself was gorgeous and demanded that I stop and buy it.

Swords and Strongholds is a game for two players whom are ages eight and up and can be played in approximately 15 to thirty minutes. the game consists of a wooden playing board, two sets of four mice tokens, and a deck of thirty cards.

The game itself is simple to learn. The objective of the game is to place one of your mouse tokens into one of the two corner squares of the enemy players side or remove all their mice tokens from the board.A mouse token can move in straight lines along the lines on the board. A player must move a mouse token on their turn. Each player gets a hand of three cards. A card is played on a mouse token which then has a certain effect. A stronghold card takes the mouse token off the line and places it in a square. This means that the token is immune to sword cards and forces all other tokens to avoid it. A diplomacy card switches placement of the token with the nearest enemy mouse token that is not in a stronghold. A sword card makes a mouse token take and extra move in a hook fashion. This move also allows the mouse token to move another mouse token. The sword card is what allows you to force an enemy mouse token off of the board.

The Pieces

The Pieces

Having no idea what I was picking up,  I was pleasantly surprised by Swords & Strongholds. The game is reminiscent of chess in that you need to be thinking several moves ahead in order to win. It blends in a bit of chance with the cards in that you could end up with a hand of diplomacy cards when you need swords thus making flexibility a necessity for this game as well.  My only complaint is around the cards and is most probably a personal quirk of mine. The cards came in a little box in which they were packed tight. To get them out, I ended up tearing the box. I like to keep things in good shape for as long as possible and tearing the card box at the beginning broke my heart a little.

I give this game a full on bear hug with four bear paws out of four. It has a suggested retail price of $30 which is not bad for such a pretty little game. It is simple to learn, quick to play, with a depth of strategy which is surprising. It is listed for pre-order on Paizo’s website and reports are that is should be up for sale on the Burning Wheel website soon.

Ortus Regni

ORGameOne of the things I investigated this year at Gen Con was one of the little side halls where some game companies set up shop. The biggest of these was, of course, Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons & Dragons. There were several hidden gems though!

One of these gems is Ortus Regni. They had a small hall to themselves across from the vendor hall and had decorated it like a small castle. Inside, they had several tables with iPads setup, tables with the game being play, big screen TVs showing videos of the game, and a little shop where you could by the game and it’s accouterments. The game was displayed in a glass case and looked gorgeous. The cards were sorted into carved wooden holders and the art was in the style of the late Anglo-Saxon period of England’s history. I was intrigued and sat down and played a demo.

It was fun!

So, I wandered over and picked up the two player game and the expansion that allows for four players. The handsome bear behind the counter was helpful and it ends up I had been chatting with him on Scruff throughout the convention. Sadly, there was a line and I had no time to speak with him more…sigh.

ORgamecontentOrtus Regni is a deck design game where players take on the roles of Earls in the above mentioned era. You are struggling with other Earls for power and land through strength at Arms, politics, treachery, or the luck of manipulating the rampaging Vikings. Each player sits down with a set of the same cards and designs a deck of 24 cards with which to play the game. The objective is to be the last Earl standing and there are many paths to this objective. You can eliminate the other player through force of arms, politics, jousts, assassination, or aiming the Vikings at them. Each of these paths requires a certain set of cards. Committing fully to one path leaves you vulnerable to any other avenues of attack.

Thus begins the subtle dance of deck design.

The thing that I enjoy so much about Ortus Regni is the complexity from simplicity. The pool of cards you have to choose from isn’t large. In addition, the deck you are creating is also confining. You do not have the room to cover every defense and still go on the attack. You have to make judicious choices and be flexible in play to be successful at Ortus Regni. I also like that this complexity is built upon cards that have no text at all. The cards are simply pictures of what they represent. There are rules for each picture but they aren’t difficult to grasp. For example, Land is tied to soldiers. It is a picture of map and it is the means by which you recruit soldiers and places limits on how many soldiers you can field in battle. Simplicity and beauty creating complexity.

I also liked that when you ran out of cards you lost because you died of old age. It made the idea of bequeathing your kingdom to an heir a possibility which was pretty interesting and a unique way of shuffling your discards back into your deck.

The complexity of Ortus regni is a barrier to entry though. As I sat and played both at Gen Con and on the computer, I realized that attempting to play Ortus Regni without having played with someone before hand would make this game somewhat daunting. There are lots of moving parts in how, Jousts, the King, and the Vikings work that it makes it easy to make big mistakes.

I would give Ortus Regni three bear paws out of Four. I love the game but the complexity makes it difficult to get new players into the game. The production values are phenomenal which makes the game a joy to play. It is a good addition to the game library but with the caveat that you will need to put in some prep work to introduce new people to the game.


7 Wonders

7 WondersThis weekend I went to a friend’s home for a day of gaming. They are always nice to me and ask what games that they own which I have not had the chance to play. Since my prior exposure to board games had been very minimal, most of their library is new me. We have been slowly working through it each time I come over and each new game has been enjoyable.

This time they introduced me to 7 Wonders by Repos Productions which is distributed by Asmodee Games here in the US.

7 Wonders has the players taking on the role of one of seven ancient civilizations. You are working to build your civilization throughout the the ages and build up the wonder that the civilization is known for. For instance, You could be given Giza. The wonder that you would be striving to erect is the Great Pyramid. The game is designed for Three to seven players ranging from ten years old and up. 7 Wonders is easy to set up and can be played in approximately 30 minutes.

The mechanic at the heart of 7 Wonders is drafting. For each age, there is a deck of cards. These cards are dealt out to each player. These cards provide commodities that are used to build your wonders and purchase other cards in later ages as well as victory points and military might. You pick up the set of cards that you have been dealt and pick one that you are gong to keep. You place it face down in front of you and pass the rest of the cards either left or right depending on the age that you are in. The direction you pass the cards is also marked on the cards to help you remember. It is a simple mechanic which is easily grasped while allowing flexibility in the strategies that you can employ.

7WondersCardsI enjoy the draft style of play. It keeps you engaged with what is going on around you. You need to see what everyone has and what they are working towards to perfect your strategy. It also hits on one of the things I enjoyed while playing Magic: The Gathering which was draft tournaments. I enjoy having everyone work from the same pool of resources and struggling to see who will come out on top.

The production values on the game are excellent. Each city card is made from heavy stock to stand up to lots of play. The artwork on all the cards is excellent and evocative of the ages in which you are playing. The cards themselves are also touch and stand up well to repeated usage.

I give 7 wonders four bear paws out of four! It is a quick game that is easy to grasp the base mechanic. It is a game that is easy to play again as the deck that you get handed at the beginning changes every time and the strategies that you face from other players change as well. Everyone is involved throughout the whole game and, as a player, you don’t feel like you’ve fallen far enough behind that you are out of the running at any point. A definite “must have” for any board game library.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Spoiler Warnings On!



You may not have noticed, but I love spy and caper movies.ManUncle

When I saw the first preview of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I was on the hook. Seeing that it had Henry Cavill and was directed by Guy Ritchie guaranteed my butt was going to be in a seat to see this movie.

For those unfamiliar with the property, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was TV show from the early 60’s that stared David McCallum and Robert Vaughn. Ian Fleming is said to have created the character of Napoleon Solo who is played in this modern film version by the ever suave Henry Cavill. U.N.C.L.E. was a secret organization dedicated to keeping the world safe through covert means.

In Ritchie’s updated big screen adaptation, our two protagonists are heroes with tarnished records. Napoleon Solo is a cat burglar and confidence man of nearly unmatched skill. His streak of international heists was brought an end when he was captured by American intelligence operatives and given the option of prison or working for the CIA. Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer, is a Russian operative with rage issues and a father that has been imprisoned in a gulag for embezzling from the communist party. Together, these two must work together to bring to a halt further nuclear proliferation.

I will admit, I did have my reservations. Other older spy TV series have attempted the jump to the big screen and have been a big disappointment. I’m looking at you Get Smart! This is not he case here. Guy Ritchie made an excellent choice to keep the movie set within it’s original era. He embraced the kitsch and mod feeling in the production and cinematography without ever coming across as making fun of the original. The introduction to the movie does an excellent job of getting the viewer ready to jump back into the Sixties and a Germany that is divided by a wall. It eases you into the style of the era while giving you a refresher course in the history that underlies the story.

Our two heroes are vying for the same target behind the wall in East Germany, Gaby. Gaby is the daughter of a Nazi scientist whom had worked on the Manhattan Project. Her father has disappeared and both sides believe that she is the answer to discovering where he is at. Once Gaby is a across the wall, the great game begins.

I mentioned earlier that Ritchie had made the choice to keep the movie set in it’s original era. He also brought to the movie a genteel aesthetic which created a sense of style that just floats off the screen while you watch the movie. This is particularly evident in the scene where Solo is working his way into an even to meet the villain of the piece. The lighting is set up to have an almost golden hue for parts of the shot involving Victoria. As Solo moves across the party, we cut back to Victoria observing his progress from behind a blowing, white, diaphanous curtain. She appears to be an aristocratic yet kitschy Daisy tracking her Gatsby. The main players in this piece provide performances that only accentuate this choice. There is a boat chase scene that takes up this same feeling and blends in sense of humor the tap dances on the edge of slapstick without ever truly crossing that line.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. blends style and substance to create a spy movie that is both fun to watch but evocative of far deeper emotions than one would expect. If I had one quibble it would be that once again the movie could benefit from a greater diversity in the cast. I was happy to see that both Gaby and Victoria are given more agency than would be expected but nowhere near what was given in Mad Max: Fury Road.

I give this movie three bear paws out of four. It was much better than expected and than it had any right to be. Despite this, it could have went the extra step to be even better. Well worth seeing in the theater.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MI rogue NationI love spy and caper movies. So, when a new Mission Impossible movie comes out, it is a guaranteed trip to the theater for me.

In this iteration of Mission Impossible, the team is facing dismantling, absorption by the CIA, and being held accountable for the damage that they have done. Alec Baldwin takes on the role of Alan Hunley, CIA Director, who calls for the disbanding of the IMF. This is occurring in Washington D.C. while Ethan Hunt is being captured by the titular Rogue Nation and being tortured for nefarious purposes.

Thus begins the latest romp around the globe for the Impossible Mission force. The movie slowly brings the past members of the team back into the picture through the work that Ethan is undertaking to ferret out the head of this rogue nation. Their lone link to the organization is Ilsa Faust, played by Rebecca Ferguson. She repeatedly assists Ethan in surviving the deadly encounters he has with the organization while never leaving the organization behind. She takes on the role of the femme fatale while leaving the team guessing about her motivations.

Rogue Nation is another nice addition to the Mission Impossible franchise. It easily delivers upon the expectations. There are car chases, explosions, daring rescues, questionable motives, and several masks removed. A few things in particular stood out for me in Rogue Nation.

First, Ilsa Faust. I mentioned her earlier as a femme fatale but this movie allows her to have more depth than this throughout the movie. Even in her introduction, we get a bit more depth. She is set to interrogate Ethan when the Bone Doctor interrupts and takes over. Ethan quickly knocks out the Bone Doctor and all hell breaks loose. Ilsa begins to set about eliminating the remaining bad guys while Etan works to escape his bonds. It was nice to see the film makers allows her to be just as strong a character as Ethan and still remain behind once Ethan has been set free.

Second, I enjoyed the idea of Ethan being on the run due to the amount of collateral damage his team has caused on their missions. In the meeting with congress, Director Hunley calls back to prior movies to illustrate the degree to which this small team wreaks such large havoc. The audience is treated to a recap of the destruction of the Kremlin and other city leveling events as proof. I like that this movie takes up the level of carnage and embraces it as part of the story and not just in the cause but also effect.

Finally, I enjoyed the homage to The Man Who Knew To Much. If you are unsure where this occurs, it is when Benji is lured in to helping Ethan by the free tickets to the Austrian production of the Opera, Turandot. We get to watch as Ethan pursues not just one, but three assassins set on the path of killing the Austrian Prime Minister. The scene is a well executed action piece wherein the opera itself provides a dramatic soundtrack. If you are a fan of Hitchcock, the similarities between this scene and the scene from The Man Who Knew To Much are inescapable.

The movie drops the ball with Ilsa as well. Throughout, we are given the picture of Ilsa as an individual with agency. We are shown that she is also trapped in circumstances beyond her control but is not allowing her hand to be forced more than she desires. This leads the viewer to believe that we will get to watch her be given the chance to save herself. To a certain extent we do. In the final fight, Ilsa is pursued by the Bone Doctor. She is allowed to kill her nemesis without the assistance of Ethan which is good to see. The failure is that she is only released from all of her various entanglements through the intervention of IMF team. Yes, she helped but she is still treated asa damsel in distress at the end.

Despite this, I still enjoyed the movie and am glad I saw it at the theater. I would give it a two bear paws out of four. If the writers and directors had given Ilsa a bit more agency at the end of the movie, this would have been a three paw movie for me.

Gen Con Journal 2015: The Rest

The rest of my Gen Con was great but not as jam packed as last year. I had scheduled several things but took my own advice and actually didn’t force myself to make it to them and my convention experience was the better for it. There are a re few things that I wanted to mention that were particularly stand out moments for me.

Orc Stomp 5K

Team Geek Bear before the race.

Team Geek Bear before the race.

I know, I’ve went on about this run here on Geek Bear’s Den a few times now. It doesn’t change the fact that it is still one of the highlights of the convention for me. It was on Friday morning at 6 AM. I was up early and walked over to the state park that is tucked into the middle of Indianapolis. I had a small group that was going to be doing the run with me this year, a couple for whom this would be their first 5K.

It is a strange feeling but watching everyone gather in the park in the predawn light. Knowing that everyone shares a love of gaming with you. Understanding that not everyone is going to run and that everyone is good with that makes it welcoming environment.

I, as is my nature, was there early. So, I beat the rest of team Geek Bear and the largest portion of the runners as well. I took the time to bask in the cool silence before the run which was filled with the small sounds of people arriving and getting registered and volunteers getting last minute details into place.

Team Geek Bear sporting our medals!

Team Geek Bear sporting our medals!

My friends that were running trickled in with the coming dawn and we began the conversation about the course. If I run with people, I always ask them if they want me to stay with them. I don’t want them to feel alone but I bet that they do not want to feel like they are holding me back. I always feel like I should stay back with them but worry that I would annoy them so I do not. With that settled, my friends that were running asked me what type of pace I planned to set. I said I was shooting for about 9:30 per mile though another friend that was there pointed out that I started by saying 10:00 mile and then came down to 9:30. It ended up that I was lying. At the first mile, my running app informed me that my pace 8:35 at which point I looked back and noticed I had started losing my friend. I wanted to see if I could maintain that pace, or close to it, for the rest of the race. Which, it turns out, I can.

Scott and I ensuring no team member is left behind.

Scott and I ensuring no team member is left behind.

I waited at the finish line and cheered on almost all the rest of team Geek Bear. At the end of the race, I still had a friend out on the course whom, my friend Scott had ran out to walk back in with. The organizers started picking up the cones at the finish line and I asked them if they could wait for my last person and they graciously said that they would. So, I ran out and met Scott and Jonathan and walked with him to the finish line. It was pretty awesome.

A great race with wonderful friends and organized by very kind individuals.

Gaymer Gathering

One of the cool things about Gen Con this year was that it was very supportive of the LGBT community. Early in the year, Indiana had passed the law that made it legal to discriminate against us and Gen Con and Indianapolis had came out strongly against this. In the end, the state legislature had made some changes to the law to make it far less egregious. This was followed my the momentous ruling by the Supreme Court giving us the legal right to marriage. This openness was seen in the amount of events that were LGBT friendly or specific, most of which carried the gaymer tag. One of these events was called Gaymer Gathering. I signed up for board games with other members of the LGBT community. It was pretty interesting. You show up and sit down at a table and play game with new people. The event organizer had Cards Against Humanity for everyone to play which had been provided by the same company for the event. I sat down at a table with several bears and ended up choosing a table with several guys from Louisville Kentucky. It is such a small world sometimes. I had a good time. It was neat being in a safe space for everyone to hang out and have fun. It was also cool to meet other bears and make some new friends to see at Gen Con next year. It was also educational as I discovered a large number of the men at my table had met at other gatherings like Midwest Bearfest. Something I had not done before and had been hesitant about trying as I am a shy extrovert which makes things like that a bit difficult for me. I ended up skipping another scheduled event on Friday to attend another Gaymer Gathering.

The Rest

I ended up spending the rest of my time either wending my way through the dealer hall or taking time to be with my friends that were are Gen Con as well. This created a Gen Con that was more relaxing and less frantic than the ones I had attended in the past. It was a welcome change from normal.

All in all, I call Gen con 2015 a success. I met new people, spent way to much money, and came home with new fond memories to cherish going forward.

Gen Con 2015 Journal: Onyx Path Publishing

OnyxPathBaseOne of the things I enjoy about Gen Con are the seminars. In particular, I like the seminars put on by companies to let the fans know what will be coming in the future.

This year, I only scheduled two such seminars and only attended one. The one I made it to was put on by Onyx Path Publishing to let the community know what was up with Trinity, Aberrant, Adventure, Scion, and the Scarred Lands. These are the game lines that have yet to receive any attention from Onyx Path since they acquired the license to the White Wolf products from CCP.

The panel for this seminar consisted of Rich Thomas, Neil Price, Scion Developer, and Ian Watson, Lead Developer for Trinity.

The first interesting thing that was mentioned was that both the Trinity setting and Scion would be using what is currently called the Sardonxy System. This is going to be more of a story path system that works well with the style of Trinity and Scion as well as allowing a range of play types within these games.

The plan for Trinity at this point is to treat it in a fashion similar to the New world of Darkness. The first release will be a core rule book which allows players to begin playing as a daredevils. This will allows for play in the genre of Leverage and Burn Notice. The release schedule will then follow with Aeon, Aberrant, and then Adventure to follow the original release schedule. One of the new additions to the system will be a setting set in 2084 which is more of an Anima setting in the vein of the recent Total Recall movie. This sounded interesting to me and I think it would work very well with Aeon. One of the things that they are hoping to do with Aberrant is to provide the ability to play with all super hero genres. The original version did not do a good job of handling four color supers and this should be addressed in the new edition.

some of the questions from the audience in regards to the Aeon continuum were intriguing. One attendee asked about Taint from Aberrant. The panel stated that it would still be a mechanic in Aberrant but there would be ways of doing it that didn’t hinder the play style of those that preferred four color heroes. It would not be totally removed though as the idea was inherent in the setting itself. Another question was in regards to the timeline of the Aeonverse. It was stated that there would be a timeline but unlike the first edition it would not be so rigid and would allow for the players actions to be more influential. Another question was in regards to the personalities from the original three books. The developers state that they would still be present in the new editions with new faces added to enhance the flavor of all the games.

Scion would be done in four books. There would be a book entitled Origins, then Hero, Demigod, and God. Each book will be designed to represent a certain play style. The books would be designed to allow for a group to stay at any given level without the game feeling like it has stalled. This was problem that occurred in the old edition and they won’t to make sure is not an issue going forward. Pantheons are going to addressed to allow for greater flexibility. This will allow players to be affiliated with multiple pantheons as well as start their own new ones. Fate Binding was something that was not well addressed in the previous edition and the developers are looking to make sure that it is something that does not bog down the game but still has mechanical function. The idea put forth at the panel was that Fate Binding worked more like an identity that could be shrugged off but at a cost. Relics will also be redesigned so that players will now be able to craft their own and increasing their iconic nature. The presented the idea of Relics as providing a motif for characters as opposed to being a limiter.

All the information in regards to these two lines was very exciting to hear but something I processed with an ounce of regret. Having attended a seminar about the new World of Darkness last year, I know these books are at least two years from being made if not more. It is nice to know what they are working towards but also frustrating knowing that the wait will be so long.

I look forward to the Kickstarter for Scion and Trinity and know that I will be a backer. sadly, I have to be patient.


Gen Con 2015 Journal: True Dungeon

I have been going to Gen Con for some time now and have always seen and true-dungeon-logoheard about True Dungeon. The barrier for entry for me has been two-fold. First is that True Dungeon sells out quickly. The few times I attempted to get a ticket to this event, I was shut out. The other reason is the cost of the event itself. This cost of a ticket into True Dungeon was $52 and it was lower in prior years but still much more than a regular board game or RPG ticket. Without ever having experienced it, this price made it easy to pass on in favor of other things to do.

This year a group of friends that always gets a large block of tickets asked if I would like to join them. They had tickets for a full group to both adventures. The time slot that they had on Thursday was not feasible for me as I would be in line to get into the vendor hall early but I said yes to the Friday morning Sable Gauntlet.

I arrived early, as is my wont. I wandered in to the antechamber where you can purchase tokens and other memorabilia of True Dungeon and watched a short video about what was going to happen. It seemed interesting. I went back out into the hall to await the rest of my party and as they arrived I was introduced to the two new people that would be joining us. We had two slots in the party that came open and my group had been very lucky to meet two cool individuals the day before who decided to join them for the this session as well.

Once we had all gathered, we headed in and began the sign-in process. They had a line for each adventure and each adventure type. We headed over to the Sable Gauntlet Puzzle version and were checked in. The volunteers give you a wrist band indicating your group and bag of tokens to begin your adventure. The party is then whisked off to a preparation room where every one sits down and prepares their character. I chose the ranger as it just required me to be able to use two pucks during the shuffle board combats. The spell casting classes would have to memorize symbols and be able to identify them randomly in order to use their spells.

For a newbie, the gear was the most confusing part of the game. My group had a ton of tokens. They had grouped them together by type. I would be handed a bag full of tokens and have to sort through them quickly to figure out which would be the best for a ranger. As an avid RPGer, There was no way I could make an informed decision in that amount of time. I ended up just waiting until everyone else had chosen their items and took what was left. Our room assistant then wrote down all our stats on the group card and we headed into the dungeon.

The first room was a puzzle. We were greeted by two drow matrons that explained that we had been captured by an illithid and brought to house Sable to be entertainment. We were bound as a group and needed to move an orb from a high pedestal to a low pedestal on the other side of the room while staying four feet away from the orb at all times. There was a treasure box which our thief promptly began unlocking and sticks along the wall. We gathered up the sticks and discovered in the box fabric that would form a hammock in some fashion. As a group we gathered together and used our sticks to pick up the orb from the high pedestal. All went well until we realized there was no support at the back of the ball and it rolled off our sticks and fell to the floor damaging us all. We then picked up the stick with a hook and used it to support the back side of the orb. We moved to the center of the room, spun around, and deposited the orb on the low pedestal.

Huzzah! One room down!

The next room turned out to be a combat room. There was a wall with skulls on which I wandered over to investigate while everyone else stayed on the other side of the room. Someone triggered the monster that appeared upon the wall that I was looking at which was pretty neat! We ended up fighting a water wyrd. It turns out I am not bad at shuffle board. We ended up defeating the monster with little damage to the party.

our next room is another puzzle. There is a spider web on the ceiling with a large spider looking down. There are pictures of demons around the room. There are letters on the floor and in the web and a treasure box. We begin putting the letter into words and discover from the treasure box that we are to read from the spiders point of view. For some reason, we are unable to get all the words to make sense and end up taking damage several times for touching the demons incorrectly.

The next room is another combat room. As we enter, each of us is given either a spider or a grub. The objective of the room is to remove the grub from ourselves before we are taken out. I was lucky in that I had an item that made me immune to normal insects. So, I took no damage if I missed my grub. The wizard and bard were not so lucky. I was able to remove my grub in three tries as was the barbarian. The barbarian then attempted to help the bard remove her spider only to hack her in the chest. It was not looking good for the bard. The barbarian then got better at assisting others and missed both the critter and the party member. We escaped the room but our bard and wizard were bad off.

The next room was another puzzle. In the middle of the room was a light table with blocks on top. There was a sign with a rhyme on it with the word exit in bold. There was also a treasure box in the room. We began trying to spell exit with the blocks while the rogue went to work on the box. The rogue informs us that each letter is a specific color of block and we stop switching blocks around. It takes us a few minutes to get the correct and then we move on.

In our final combat room, we faced a powerful drow matron and several spider egg sacks. Her attacks were poisoned so that each hit did even more damage. The best part about this combat was that there was an NPC that provided commentary throughout the combat and entered the room dramatically. It was neat and her performance was excellent. In the end, we were able to defeat her and drag our barely conscious wizard into the final room.

The final puzzle was a large pool filled with the souls of the last party through. They wanted released but could only provide clues through what they had brought with them. skulls were posted around the pool with numbers. The skulls with he correct numbers had to be turned toward the pool in order for the souls to be freed and our party to escape. It ended up being that each thing had a word in it that also had a number. there were things such as flour, a shield with a dog on it, and other things. Our paladin died to buy us another round of hints from the pool. This allowed us to free his and all the souls that had gone before.

We won!

I enjoyed True Dungeon immensely. The puzzles were clever and frustrating while the combat was entertaining. I liked the idea of the tokens, some of which we earned more of by solving the last puzzle. I would like to have a look at the tokens before heading into the hall itself as that would make the process go much smoother. I also have to say that I liked going with a large group of people I knew. It made something that could be easily overwhelming much easier to get into and more enjoyable. My earlier ideas about True Dungeon were incorrect. I loved it and hope I can do both adventures next year!

True Dungeon gets 4 bear paws!


Gen Con 2015 Journal: Calliope Games

The first day of Gen Con for me is on a Wednesday.Calliope-Games-9252014122518PM

I arrive in Indianapolis and get settled in a for a busy four days. This is time that I try to use to meet up with people that I only see at Gen Con. One such meet-up led to meeting the exceptionally nice people at Calliope Games.

I met my friend at his hotel which was not connected to the skywalk. He was on the 19th floor, so as we head back out of the hotel, the elevator becomes packed. To accommodate everyone on the elevator, personal space is sacrificed and several people get scrunched up against each other. The young woman in front of me cranes her neck to look at me and tells me that we are now elevator friends and hands me a Calliope pin. I am incredulous and and ask if she is being serious to which she replies that she is. I take the beautiful pin and ask where in the vendor hall the company is and she tells me. I point out that I have my own site and am at Gen Con with a Press Pass. She then tells me that I definitely need to see her tomorrow as she is the PR Gremlin for Calliope Games. I tell her that I will.Tsuro3

After making an elevator friend, I take to twitter. I talk about how nice Cassidy was and how I was looking forward to stopping by the booth. It turns out that she checked out my site and particularly like my Gen Con Survival Guide. It goes without saying that I am exceedingly happy now and can not wait for the next day.

The next day I spend the early morning waiting in lines. I wait for my Press Badge and then I wait to get into the vendor hall early. As promised, I head directly for the booth of Calliope Games and Cassidy, the PR Gremlin remembers me. Calliope Games is the home of such games as Tsuro, Tsuro of the Seas, Veterans of the Sea, Roll for It, and several more. The games are quick to learn and easy to play with entire family. I enjoy Tsuro immensely and am pleasantly surprised to be speaking with the company that makes it.

I ask what are the big things at Gen Con for Calliope Games. Cassidy points Thievesout that this is the tenth anniversary for Tsuro. To celebrate, they will be releasing Tsuro as an app and are working on a limited edition, limited print run of Tsuro. This edition will include specially designed pawns for the game. The pictures and description of what they will look like are awesome. Cassidy also points out that they are demoing their newest game, Thieves. This is a quick card game where the players take on the roles of Thieves pulling off incredible heists while attempting to evade the police. The objective is to be the thief with the most loot at the end of the game. I was given a demo copy of the game and look forward to playing the game and posting a review.

The neat thing I learned was that Tsuro originated at a Star Wars: Asteroid Escape. There was copy of this game on display in the booth. Cassidy pointed out that due to licensing issues that the mechanics of the game were used to create Tsuro. An interesting tidbit about a fun family game that I enjoy.Tsuro1

The visit was made even more awesome when Cassidy inquired about the meaning of the bear in Geek Bear’s Den. She knew what it meant and had knew some bears as well and was cool with it. this made me so happy!

Calliope Games had a gorgeous booth filled with fun family games and awesome people that made me feel welcome when I visited. I am so glad that I made an elevator friend and got to speak with Cassidy about the cool stuff from Calliope Games.