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Category Archives: Columns

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 14

GrogHeads’ own half-height harbinger of horror turns horny ~

Lloyd Sabin, 15 January 2018

It’s cold as balls outside (read: extremely cold) and my driveway is a glacier. Which leads me to think of Vikings and Viking-themed games. In this installment of What’s Gus Playing, I’ll cover some of my time with three Norse-irific titles: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Vikings: Wolves of Midgard, and Expeditions: Viking.

Expeditions: Viking is just as well produced as Vikings: Wolves of Midgard (probably moreso) but takes its Scandinavian history more to heart, and a bit more seriously.

Full disclosure: I got about half way in to Hellblade and covered it in more detail in the last installment of What’s Gus Playing. It eventually drained me and I had to move on to something else a little lighter to save my sanity, and that was Vikings: Wolves of Midgard. It’s a Diablo-clone, but a well done one set among the myths of the Norse world. Your avatar is customizable to a point, the enemies are varied and numerous and the game runs well, with attractive, bloody graphics and cartoonish violence.

At first the difficulty almost seemed too easy and I was going to bump it up to ‘hard’ until I hit the first boss. I tried to defeat this boss seemingly 100 times and even after LOWERING the difficulty to ‘easy’ I still could not do it, at which point I just shouted ‘f this!’ and moved on to Expeditions: Viking.

Expeditions: Viking is just as well produced as Vikings: Wolves of Midgard (probably moreso) but takes its Scandinavian history more to heart, and a bit more seriously. Like its predecessor, Expeditions: Conquistador, it is a story-based, historically accurate hybrid of tactical wargame and RPG. 

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 13

The bantam-weight banterer of badassery battles in a bygone Britain ~

Lloyd Sabin, 8 January 2018

I obviously try to keep this column as light as possible, but some games are just heavy. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is one such heavy game.

Just be warned – I would not recommend playing for extended periods of time. Hellblade seriously changed my mood, and quickly.

Giving the player the opportunity to play as Senua, a female Celt, in Dark Age Britain, Hellblade is much more than a game of exploration or first person combat. These aspects are there, but Hellblade, first and foremost, is about fear…fear generated through mental illness.

Ninja Theory, the producers of Hellblade, consulted mental illness experts to create the game and state they wanted to make as accurate a portrayal of mental illness as possible, so that those lucky enough to live without it could have some idea of what it’s like. They did a fine job, because Hellblade is terrifying, confusing and infuriating, by design.

I found myself panicking, getting angry and frustrated, and finally having to step away from the game for a breather…about an hour of Hellblade is all I can really do before it becomes too much.

This is not a knock at the game itself – it’s awesome, well-produced, beautiful to look at and takes its content very seriously. Just be prepared to be affected. That’s the best way I can think of to describe it. Hopefully you will be able to see some of what I saw in the screen shots below. I also have to mention the audio design. The sound, maybe even more than the visuals, are the real terror drivers here. Play Hellblade for just an hour and you will see what I mean.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 12

GrogHeads’ rump-height rapscallion rides the ropes ~

Lloyd Sabin, 25 December 2017

I’m sure there are many games that you return to after months or even years away. This was the case for me with Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. You know, the AssCreed just after Black Flag that kept the well done naval combat but shifted settings to New York’s Hudson River Valley during the French and Indian War in the 1750s.

It’s one of those games that makes players excited to be gamers, and I can’t think of a better comment to lavish upon it!

Oh and your in-game avatar spent most of the game breaking away from his usual Assassin’s guild and worked on joining the Templars. Traitor? Turncoat? Depends on your perspective.

Rogue does give players an opportunity to explore the beautiful Hudson River Valley hinterland as well as its bigger cities like Albany and New York City, one of the only games I can recall that provides that setting. And living here in that setting 250 years later made Rogue irresistible…it just draws players in with beautiful graphics, stealthy mechanics (where you want them), a solid naval combat component, even fleet management.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 11

The wee wonder of warmongering waxes whimsically ~

Lloyd Sabin, 18 December 2017

Well my Polish campaign in Medieval 2: Total War (with the Stainless Steel mod) looks to be wrapping up in a way I didn’t really want…Hungary, Novgorod and now Venice have all found savory bits to lop off my increasingly small empire and I fear I may be knocked out of the campaign soon. Witness some of the below shots.

Initially I cheered at this news as the Holy Roman Empire was a victory objective for me to defeat but then I quickly realized that the powers that dismantled it were in the process of taking my Polish empire down too.

A Look Back at 2017 from GrogHeads

2017 – What hath we wrought?

It’s been an eventful year here at GrogHeads.

We’ve expanded almost everything we do – more articles, more pictures in our articles, more traffic in the forums, more podcasts, more events at Origins, waaaaay more games to give away at Origins, more advertising partners to help us keep the lights on, more video features, and more members of our forums.

But none of that does much for us without you, the reader, to join us for the ride, and for that we are the most thankful. Our readership stats have gone up aross every metric: clicks, reads, time on the site, and reach with our social media.

So what’s coming next year?

Well, we’ve got a handful of things to work on. First, we’re going to updating some of our merchandise options, with new shirts and new products. We’ve got a podcast series already out there, and a new video series, too, but we don’t do much with live video, and we’ll look to start experimenting with some of that.

We’ve got some ideas getting more involved in the wider gaming community, too. We already plan, sponsor, and execute a bunch of events at Origins each summer, but that really only reaches the Grogs that can make it to Origins, so we’re going to look into some plans that can help reach our Grogience where you live and play – at your FLGS and smaller conventions. We’ve got some ideas about how to tie that into our social presence, too, but that’s admittedly a bit of a science project.

2017 By The Numbers:
– Over 200 articles
– Over 150 new members
– Over 30 Interviews
– 16 GrogCast Episodes
– 16 New Videos
– 68 Origins Events
– (20 just for kids!)
– 7 Conventions Covered
– 28 T-Shirts given away

Finally, we’re going to start experimenting with some new graphics updates on the site to go along with some new (Gus!) and reborn (GARPA) columns we’ll be putting back into rotation.

As with everything we work on – these are moving targets. We’re going to try something, and if it works (The GrogCast, #TBT ads) we’ll keep doing them, and if it doesn’t (Tuesday Screenshot, How To Make It In The Game Business) we’ll cut it out.

Most importantly, though, we’re going to try to have even more fun this coming year than last year, because ultimately that’s what this is all about, right?


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