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Tag Archives: Fantasy

Arms & Ambition – Playtest Report

GrogHeads had a chance to check out a pre-release playtest of the new Arms & Ambition boardgame ~

Chris Caran, 15 November 2017

This weekend while attending the MACE convention in Charlotte, I had an opportunity to sit down with Brad Warren and play his new wargame, Arms and Ambition. The game is in development, but very polished so far – a beautiful vinyl mat, 3D printed pieces, and professionally printed cards. Only the rules and documentation are still in developmental mode.

In the game, you play one of eight noble families vying for the throne after the ruling dynasty collapses. Each family has starting territory and “family ambitions” – victory conditions specific to the player. The overall goal is to gain 100 victory points and declare yourself the new king. You have starting units and each territory you own (represented by a card) has an income value.

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What’s Gus Playing? Episode 7

Our very own half-pint hammerhead is back at war ~

Lloyd Sabin, 13 November 2017

If you’re keeping track of what I’m playing you really need a better hobby. That said, last week I covered my foray in to the first act of Shadow of War, and despite myself I found I kept coming back for 10-12 hours of pretty mindless orkish bloodletting. Now another week has passed and after moaning and wailing, I have arrived at the second act of Shadow War, just in time for army construction and that sweet, sweet siege warfare I have been screaming for. And wouldn’t you know it, just as I’ve developed a good head of steam and plowed directly in to the act…I have started to lose interest.

So I am some distance in to the second act of Shadow of War and feeling a little ‘meh’ about the whole thing.

I don’t dislike Shadow of War, but as noted last week, the entire first act is more of the same from Shadow of Mordor. Relatively speaking, that’s a good thing and the nemesis system is solid…I just wanted more NEWER FASTER!!! And I didn’t get to it quickly enough.

So I am some distance in to the second act of Shadow of War and feeling a little ‘meh’ about the whole thing. For a time I am going to shelve Shadow of War and move on, for my own sanity and yours. I will come back to it, and probably pretty soon, but right now my brain needs something else. An old favorite, a new take on an old formula, something totally out of left field…I’m not sure yet, put it that way. But whatever I start gaming in the next few days will make this little column here more interesting than my mewling about that sweet, sweet siege action. I know this.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 6

The GrogHeads’ munchkin of malice is mauling in Mordor ~

Lloyd Sabin, 6 November 2017

There is a lot to learn and the game is rather wide open, but you can get your ass kicked very easily.

I pre-ordered Shadow of War 8 months ago when I saw some footage of the game’s siege mechanics and drooled all over the keyboard. I am a casual Tolkien and Lord of the Rings fan at best, which is probably a good thing since Shadow of War does NOT stick to canon…not even a little bit. Which has sent some hardcore fans in to a bit of a rage. Fortunately for you, reader, there are other things in the game that have enraged me. The most enraging is the repetitive gameplay…a lot of the missions in Shadow of War are very, very similar, and very similar to the missions in Shadow of Mordor. I am only in the first act out of four, however.

The gameplay can be a bit tough as well, but I have improved at it as I have progressed. Another item that kinda, sorta enrages me is how long it takes to get to the aforementioned siege battles. The developers are making me slog through the first act, which is like a mini Shadow of Mordor game. Maybe I am being impatient but I need that sweet siege action. Give it to me!!

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 5

GrogHeads’ Garden Gnome of Goodness goes granite ~

Lloyd Sabin, 30 October 2017

Yes I covered Witcher 3 Hearts of Stone just a couple of weeks ago but I am so, so, so in love with the game that I am still playing it. Plus, it’s very close to Halloween and this particular part of the Hearts of Stone DLC – taking place in the von Everec manor house – is extremely well done. It is plain old frightening in some spots and I have to say, unexpectedly well done…even for Witcher 3, which is consistently fantastic.

Plus there’s evil, fairly attractive demons, wraiths and ghosts that will make you question your sexuality

The player is sent to the von Everec manor pretty close to what appears to be the end of the main story line of Hearts of Stone, and you get to fill in some major backstory on Olgierd von Everec: how he became character you’re ‘not so sure about,’ where he came from and how his head and scalp got so badly damaged. Plus there’s evil, fairly attractive demons, wraiths and ghosts that will make you question your sexuality. See below for more!

Oh and how could I forget – if you choose the correct path through Hearts of Stone, you can get some, as is tradition in all Witcher games. In this particular case it is with an old love interest named Shani. You attend a wedding with her and it is up to you to decide how you want the evening to end, as long as you are a gentleman about it.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 3

The pint-sized playa’ gets witchy on ya ~

Lloyd Sabin, 16 October 2017

The Witcher 3
Hearts of Stone

The Witcher 3 is still my go to game for almost any mood. Feeling like some creepy scares? Witcher 3. Want some eastern European-flavored dungeon spelunking? The Witcher 3. Scantily-clad fantasy women of all shapes and sizes? Again, Witcher 3.

So it was with some sadness that I completed the main quest a few months ago and shelved it for a few months. Enderal filed the gap for a while but then October hit (despite the 80-degree temps and hair-ruining humidity) and here I am again, needing a Witcher fix. I know there is a kind and loving gaming god because there are the DLC expansion packs Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Blood and Wine is the equivalent of almost an entire other Witcher game, so I saved that and jumped in to Hearts of Stone earlier this week. And all those feelings came rushing back.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 1

A new regular read from the Halfling of Happiness ~

Lloyd Sabin, 2 October 2017

Hey all. It’s been a while, you know with real life getting in the way. To make up for lost time, BB and I thought it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to start a new weekly piece, cleverly entitled What’s Gus Playing {insert obvious joke here}.

This first installment covers my last few hours with the absolutely gorgeous, quite impressive full conversion mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, named Enderal, developed by German modder and AI tinkerer SureAI. This link will take you to the pertinents, including where and how to download.

The actual modding process is extremely well documented and pretty painless, especially if you have been modding PC games since before Steam workshop and know The Struggle that modding used to be like.

I’ve already put in about 25-30 hours into the Enderal mod. According to the internet I am about half of the way through the intricate story line, and it is just as good or better than a lot of professionally developed games. That is on top of the ~150 hours I’ve put in to the Skyrim base game and most of the DLCs. It’s hard to believe the game is 6+ years old. Which begs the question…where is the next Elder Scrolls game? But…I digress. Below are some screen shots of What I’ve Been Playing for the last few days. I think you’ll agree they are quite impressive. And if you don’t agree well I never liked you that much anyway.

Look at the detail here. You can see that the creators really loved what they were doing and developed Enderal with a loving hand.

Classic Reviews – Red Dragon Inn

The only thing that’s more fun than drinking, gambling, and rough-housing in a medieval tavern in a laughter-inducing game about drinking, gambling, and rough-housing in a medieval tavern. ~

Brant Guillory, 6 September 2017

With a learning curve that’s somewhere between “simple” and “duh”, and a playing time of 30-60 minutes (published and actual), it’s quick, easy, fun, usually hilarious.  But with only four characters might get stale for as often as you’ll want to play it

So you and your friends either slayed an evil beast, or conquered the local warlord? Both? Well done, you! Time to celebrate, quaffing pints and regaling your friends with tall tales of your exploits over at the Red Dragon Inn. You goal is to be the last one standing among the carousing adventurers at the inn, which is not an easy feat when you’re subsisting on a diet of Dragon Breath Ale.

Each player has a playmat that organizers the cards in play, and tracks both the character’s alcohol level, and fortitude. The goal is to keep the alcohol content low, and the fortitude high; should they meet, the character falls unconscious and the rest of the party splits the loot. Speaking of loot – should you run out of loot, the inn tosses you out on your heels. In either case, you’re out of the game. The last conscious player standing, with cash, is the winner.

Classic Reviews – Empires of the Shining Sea

Bringing back another review, but if you’ve not read it, it’s new to you! ~

Brant Guillory, 10 May 2017

First Impressions: This is a meaty book… for some that’s good, others not so good. Thumbing through the book you find everything but a currency converter. Just out of curiosity, I went to the index to see if there was one I just missed, and, well, darn if the damn book didn’t have an index either. The maps are standard Forgotten Realms maps. Some people like the style, some people loathe the style. On the plus side, anyone who’s ever looked over a Forgotten Realms map before knows what they’re looking at on the map.