Saturday, May 31, 2014

Christening the New Home

After hours of unloading the pod and picking up some random furniture from friends and family, we're almost settled in the new house.

Yesterday, we  broke out an old favorite to play the first game here:  TWO do-or-die games of Candyland.  Not a full review of it, but the new version with a spinner instead of drawing cards feels ridiculously fast.  Maja and I played two games in what it took the DirectTV guy to reinstall some boxes, and he was lightning quick. 

With two separate bedrooms for the girls,   Bedtime has instantly become a whole lot easier.  Maja got her first "real" book from me to celebrate the move, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  At a chapter a night, we have 23 more nights of it.   I'd like to find a stand alone copy of The Marvelous Land of Oz and proceed like that through the series.  If not, I also snagged the first six books in a large anthology, but that feels a bit unwieldy for bedside reading. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kriget rum Viscount Eric

As I post this, all the paperwork will have been signed and everything has been transferred.  After weeks of sheer mental instability, the ViscountEric family will have a new house.

It's right off the highway, making us ten minutes closer to everything.  There's a living room PLUS a family room.  There's a basement that's dry and relatively bright and clean.  And for my wife and I, we'll reintroduce the concept of the home office, as four bedrooms give us an extra one for my wife's home health work, my blogging, and best of all, a safe place for a new desktop. 

I won't go into details of this whole process, as no matter what I mention, current home owners will simply nod in agreement, while renters will go "It doesn't sound that bad..."

We currently have one of those PODS sitting in the driveway of our current house, which we have been feverishly filling with stuff for the past week.  It takes awhile to coordinate a pickup or transfer to a different site, but we're still saving money versus the old U-Haul/bunch of friends approach.

The remainder of the week will be a flurry of painting of the girl's separate (woo-hoo!) bedrooms, a LOT of boxes carried around, a full day using a floor sander, and if we can get the new mattresses in quick enough, and evening of painting in my new gaming table.  Sure, it's in the basement, but outside of a huge crawlspace for storage, the rest of the basement is all mine, a Kriget rum Viscount Eric (Viscount Eric's War Room).

An Older Suburban Home Will Now Host the Ruler of the Universe....My Wife

Now THAT's a deck


A little cleanup with the electrical and my paint station is complete!
I anticipate a slow transition back into the hobbies I love, intermixed with the seventeen million "Honey-Do"  projects.   With shelving and some new tables down, I'll have a single location for my wargaming stuff (the RPG books belong in the office).  Plus, with a new mortgage, I won't have any funds to go anywhere, so I might as well paint and game at home! 

Edit:  My wife did provide with a little gift to thank me for tolerating her bouts of mania this past month.   It's proudly displayed on our mantle, as well as my daughter's first "cool rock" she found on the property.

Gnome Sweet Home

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Great D&D Counter-Reformation

I'll admit when push comes to shove, if a gun was put to my head, I would prefer AD&D 2nd Edition to any other iteration of the game, with the Rules Cyclopedia "Basic" game coming in second.   As I harp on every other month on my Apathy of New Releases posts, I am nowhere near the demographic that WotC has been shooting at for the last 15 years.

I understood the financial necessity of 3rd edition when I was a retailer.  By the time Fourth Edition rolled around, I was completely uninterested in spending money on books I wouldn't use and the unnecessary extra accessories and maps I didn't need.    I ran 3rd for store events and found it serviceable, and I did give Fourth a go and found it uninspired and, well, overwrought crap.

I've actively avoided the whole D&DNext (5th Edition) situation, but this past week, geek web sites have compiled data from WotC press releases and Amazon placeholders to determine the release schedule for the Fall.

I'm not impressed, but I am curious. 

Hopefully, next month's Game Trade will start the pre-orders for the new books, and I'll go over them in better detail then, but from a preliminary look, I've surmised the following:
  • Most hardcovers look to have a 20% price increase, AGAIN.  Fifty bucks for a core book does make more sense than some random supplement.  A $50 Player's Handbook would make a poor gateway purchase, if not for the...
  • Beginner's boxed set for twenty bucks or so that gives the very basic classes, basic combat, and a few races to mix things up.
  • And if THAT wasn't mildly appealing, the rules will be available on PDF from WotC, for free, and from what I'm read, it's not some generic d20-style universal document.  It is conceivable that you can get the pdf and play D&D for years without paying WotC one red cent. 
Wizards may have learned some lessons from the previous edition.  They may be willing to sacrifice some initial tithes to the Church of D&D to prevent further schisms that helped create the demoninations of Castles and Crusades and Pathfinder.    In a hobby when Edition Wars over printings of products erupt, a peace offering to the players to ease the eventual financial heartbreak of a new edition should be appreciated.
  • Oh yeah, the artwork sucks even more now.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Gnome Wars Pics From Enfilade! 2014

It was crazy weekend as Mr Mom. We were so close to breaking out gnomes, but the list of craziness grew with each day.

One place where they did get some gnome-on-gnome action was Enfilade! out in Olympia, Washington. There was a warning on the Facebook Gnome Wars page that there would essentially be a "Walking Gnome" game, and it did not look like it disappointed.




As much as I enjoy our HMGS East historical gnome games, our friends in the Pacific Northwest know how to keep things light-hearted and still look great. The different color hats on the Znombies just pops in the pictures.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

I'd Like to Pre-Order Human Prey, Please

The rollout for All Quiet on the Martian Front continues with a 2nd wave of preorders.  Nothing too exciting, but I get a big chuckle out of the "Unarmed Civilians."

While most wargamers would eschew civilians on the battlefield for the sheer guilt of collaterol damage, in a game with giant Martian tripods firing heat rays, it makes perfect sense to me.  Heck, I would love to see a scenario where the sheer amount of fleeing civilians is used as a cover for the Martians as they block the advance of an overwhelming human response.

Friday, May 23, 2014

What a World, What a World....

Another insane week of the real world.  I'm hoping to post some details shortly, but as someone told me yesterday, "It's incredibly hard to find someone who just wants to do their job."   So, while I finish this during my break so I can attempt to get some work done...

The wife works the whole weekend, so I'm hoping for some games with the kids.  We'll see how that goes, but things look positive thus far.  At least one of the games I'm shooting for is gnome-only (no princesses or Fisher-Price Little People).

Maja turned five earlier this month and we had her "big party" again at Knoebels.  We snagged pizza on the way in for everyone and got all the kids the requisite bag of useless party favor junk and a day pass to the park.  This year, Maja finally reached the milestone height of 42", and after a long drawn out afternoon of her and her "little" friends on the kiddie rides, I abducted her and took the last hour to get her on not one, but two wooden roller coasters.   For the Phoenix, she was a bit light to share a car with Dad and a single lap bar, so a well placed arm kept her from bouncing a bit too high.  On the Twister, the single seat lap bar kept her locked it tight for a far wilder coaster.   Good news is that she love both times (although Space Mountain is still her favorite), so it's confirmed that I finally have a coaster buddy.

I also managed to swing by my new FLGS and felt relieved (or disturbed) to discover the more things change in the distribution channels, the more things stay the same.  The great news is that one of my books got through the system, so I am mere pages into Secrets of Tibet.    The review might take awhile to show up here, but 15 pages in and it's a completely different animal than Canis Mysterium.  I'm pleased I ordered it on a whim.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Woolshed Wargamer: The Dread Pirate Ted

A great paint job, although this pirate is a bit of a landlubber as his 40+mm base might have trouble on most 25mm ships.

https://woolshedwargamer.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/dread-pirate-ted/

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Apathy of the New Releases (June '14)

The May Game Trade Monthly is upon us, and that means one thing: the Summer Con Season is upon us!  If a company is releasing a product for Origins, they probably should have their numbers by now, but good preorders for GenCon product might force a company to do this strange ancient ritual called upping their print run so the entire run doesn't instantly vanish by Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis.

My Want List
Chaosium
CHA 23134 CALL OF CTHULHU: RIPPLES FROM CARCOSA .............................. $21.95
Chaosium is becoming a machine. Hopefully it's not a machine that processes manure.

Dan Verssen
DV1 CT  Deep Dish Counter Tray  ................................................................................. $ 2.99
I haven't seen any good ones since my Legions of Steel days.  I'll take two, please.

My Money-Is-No-Object List
Cubicle 7
CALL OF CTHULHU: CTHULHU BRITANNICA - LONDON BOX SET ................ $89.99
As if my Masks game couldn't get MORE complicated.


The Imaginary Store (The Pegleg Gnome) List
I started this whole Apathy series to provide to "stay in the game" so to speak.  With no FLGS to speak of, it was my only way to stay close to the industry, without getting the very skewed opinions of the internet.   I personally skew the "Imaginary Store" new releases in each post to what I think will sell, using the promotion techniques I know would work, plus a healthy dose of skepticism and bias.  I'm also not afraid to say I was wrong about certain brands.  Go back to earlier months and I will show interest in a product, but as subsequent months go on I will begin to doubt if going into a line was/would be a good idea (Dust Tactics and Dystopian Wars for example).  I've also watched the dealer's tables at the local cons and have seen certain products never move from their spot on the table con after con.  In this month's post, I will throw the blogging gauntlet down on certain products, specifically the expensive uber-board games.  I'll gladly take rebuttals from my accusations, and answers to the questions I pose. 

Alderac Entertainment Group
DOOMTOWN: RELOADED .......................................................................................... $39.99
LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS RPG:  BOOK OF VOID ............................................. $39.99
LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS CCG: SIEGE - HEART OF DARKNESS ................... $34.99
LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS CCG: IVORY EDITION: A LINE IN THE SAND BOOSTER DISPLAY (36) Doomtown looks like a decent card game, probably with similiar mechanics to the CCG version.  There's two more card/boardgames that AEG is releasing, and like most of this part of there line, I'm just not impressed enough to dump more money into random $40 games.  

Arcane Wonders
MAGE WARS: ACTION MARKER SET 2 ..................................................................... $12.99 MAGE WARS: FORGED IN FIRE SPELL TOME EXPANSION ................................... $29.99
I list these simply because I found the original game overpriced AND bad, which usually doesn't result with additional product getting released.  Has anyone actually played this game and is it worth the money for the original game?  

The Army Painter
Tool: Hobby Saw ................................................................................................................. $11.99 While I do believe a store selling minis and paint should have some of the other modelling tools handy, I list this one for reference a little later on.  

Atlas Games
Gloom, 2nd Edition ............................................................................................................... $24.95  

Catalyst Game Labs
BATTLETECH: ALPHA STRIKE COMPANION .............................................................. $39.99 BATTLETECH: BATTLECORPS ANTHOLOGY VOLUME 5 PAPERBACK .................. $14.95 BATTLETECH: INTERSTELLAR OPERATIONS .............................................................. $59.99 COSMIC PATROL RPG: BEYOND THE GRAVASTAR ................................................... $24.99 SHADOWRUN DBG: CROSSFIRE CHARACTER EXPANSION PACK 1 ...................... $14.99 SHADOWRUN RPG: RUN AND GUN LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER ..................... $74.99 SHADOWRUN RPG: STREET GRIMOIRE LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER .............. $74.99  

Chaosium
ENLIGHTENED MAGIC: SORCERY AND ALCHEMY RULES BASED ON WESTERN OCCULT TRADITIONS ....................................................................................................................... $20.95
For BRP  

Cubicle 7
DOCTOR WHO RPG: THE SEVENTH DOCTOR SOURCEBOOK HARDCOVER ..........$34.99 THE ONE RING RPG: CORE RULES REVISED HARDCOVER ........................................ $49.99  

Fantasy Flight Games
DARK HERESY 2ND EDITION RPG: CORE RULEBOOK HARDCOVER .................... $59.95
DARK HERESY 2ND EDITION RPG: GAME MASTER’S TOOLKIT ............................. $19.95
STAR WARS RPG: AGE OF REBELLION ONSLAUGHT AT ARDA I HC ..................... $29.95
STAR WARS X-WING MINIATURES GAME: REBEL ACES EXPANSION PACK ...... $29.95
There's also there regular slew of boardgames, expansions, and LCGs.  I've seen them stocked at stores, but do players actually buy them at their FLGS, or do they rely on Amazon and other sources if they buy them at all?   

Gale Force Nine
CREATURES OF ICEWIND DALE GF9 71026....................................................................$50.00 KESSELS BAND GF9 71023.................................................................................................$50.00 BEHIR GF9 71013..................................................................................................................$50.00 SUNDERING BOOK 5 - KLEEF AND MALIK GF9 71028.................................................$25.00
I don't remember a lot of previous solicitations for their D&D Collector's series, but they do list a number of other products under the "Offered Again (O/A)" moniker.  They're also listing some new products for the Tyranny of the Dragons line for D&DNext.  
TYRANNY OF THE DRAGONS CULTISTS -  GF9 71034..................................................$39.99 ARCANE SPELL DECK GF9 73904......................................................................................$19.99 CLERIC SPELL DECK GF9 73902........................................................................................$12.99 CLERIC TOKEN SET GF9 73706..........................................................................................$12.99 FIGHTER TOKEN SET GF9 73711........................................................................................$12.99 SORCERER TOKEN SET GF9 73703....................................................................................$12.99 WARLOCK TOKEN SET GF9 73704....................................................................................$12.99 WIZARD TOKEN SET GF9 73705.........................................................................................$12.99 DUNGEONS &DRAGONS: TYRANNY OF THE DRAGONS DM SCREEN GF973801...$14.99 DUNGEONS &DRAGONS: TYRANNY OF THE DRAGONS CASTLE SIEGE VINYL GAME MAT GF9 73801......................................................................................................................$19.99   SPARTACUS: HOUSE CALVINIUS EXPANSION ............................................................. $15.00 SPARTACUS: CHAMPIONS HOUSE BATIATUS ...............................................................$10.00 SPARTACUS: DICE ...............................................................................................................$12.00 SPARTACUS: GLADIATORS ................................................................................................$40.00
I know Spartacus was one the games we got Hoyce for his bachelor party, but I didn't think it was that great a game to warrant expansion and other GF9 gadgets and geegaws.

Games Workshop
No new product solicited this month, but their O/A selection just about popped my top.   Remember the Army Painter Saw I listed previously?  A basic law of this hobby should be a hobby saw from one company should not be six dollars cheaper than another company's "Mouldline Remover" or $13 less than their x-acto knife hidden to look like a box cutter.  I spent a third as much for my hand drill through Army Painter than the GW cost for theirs.  Simply amazing.  

Goblin Army Games
RUKUS - THE GOBLIN ARMY GAME ............................................................................. $25.00  

Green Ronin Publishing
ICONS SUPERPOWERED ROLEPLAYING: THE ASSEMBLED EDITION .................... $34.95 MUTANTS & MASTERMINDS: GADGET GUIDES ......................................................... $29.95 PATHFINDER: ADVANCED BESTIARY .......................................................................... $49.95  

IDW
Tammany Hall........................................................................................................................ $59.99  

Konami
YU-GI-OH! TCG: 2014 SUPER STARTER SPACE-TIME SHOWDOWN DISPLAY (10)  

Mayfair Games
BEDPANS & BROOMSTICKS: ESCAPE FROM SHADY PINES ................................... $35.00
Methinks my wife has been watching too much Golden Girls.  It's rubbing off.

Monte Cook Games
NUMENERA RPG: THE TECHNOLOGY COMPENDIUM - SIR ARTHOUR’S GUIDE TO THE NUMENERA ...................................................................................................................... $39.99
THE STRANGE RPG Corebook Hardcover ........................................................................ $59.99
THE STRANGE RPG Players Guide .................................................................................... $19.99

Osprey Publishing
Bolt Action: Tank War ........................................................................................................... $29.95
In Her Majesty's Name:  Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun ............................................................. $17.95

Paizo Publishing
PATHFINDER ADVENTURE CARDGAME: SKULL & SHACKLES BASE SET ............ $59.99
PATHFINDER ADVENTURE CARDGAME: SKULL & SHACKLES ADD-ON DECK... $19.99 PATHFINDER: ADVANCED CLASS GUIDE .....................................................................$39.99
PATHFINDER ADVENTURE PATH:IRON GODS PART 1 -FIRES OF CREATION ....... $22.99
PATHFINDER CAMPAIGN SETTING: TECHNOLOGY GUIDE ...................................... $19.99
PATHFINDER CARDS: IRON GODS ADVENTURE PATH ITEM CARDS DECK .......... $10.99
PATHFINDER MAP PACK: STARSHIP CHAMBERS ....................................................... $13.99
PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION: PEOPLE OF THE STARS .................................. $12.99
PATHFINDER TALES: REIGN OF STARS NOVEL ........................................................... $ 9.99

Plaid Hat Games
Mice and Mystics: Downwood Tales Expansion ....................................................................... $74.95
When they call it a "big box" expansion, I hope there's lots of stuff that comes in this box...

Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin: Princesses .................................................................................................................$ 4.95

USAopoly
My Little Pony Life...................................................................................................................... PI

Warlord Games
Another minor rant that I keep repeating.  It's great that they solicit all their product, but forcing a retailer to pay more for less profit, and hide the pricing from the customer just isn't cool.  I was particularly interested in some of the Tabletop Workshop buildings, but I can imagine going through secondary channels for a cheaper price. And if I'm aware of the process and know how to inquire with my FLGS, and I STILL want to go through other sources, imagine the "regular" customer.

Wizards of the Coast
They're only soliciting Kaijudo this month, however the gaming press just announced the 5th Edition D&D books, through WotC press release and Amazon searches.  I may have a larger word on particulars later, but for now, I pray to God that they have some immediate promotion and marketing going through the distribution chain to support this release. 

Wizkids
ATTACK WING: DUNGEONS & DRAGONS STARTER SET ........................................... $49.99
ATTACK WING: DUNGEONS & DRAGONS WAVE ONE
Different figures for different prices.  No description as to the contents of each pack.
EXPANSION PACK 1 WZK 71588 ................................................................................$29.99

EXPANSION PACK 2 WZK 71589 ................................................................................$24.99
EXPANSION PACK 3 WZK 71590 ................................................................................$14.99
EXPANSION PACK 4 WZK 71591 ................................................................................$24.99
EXPANSION PACK 5 WZK 71592 ................................................................................$24.99
EXPANSION PACK 6 WZK 71593 ............................................................................... $24.99
EXPANSION PACK 7 WZK 71594 ................................................................................$14.99
EXPANSION PACK 8 WZK 71595 ................................................................................$19.99
STAR TREK ATTACK WING: ATTACK AND DEFENSE DICE PACK ......................$ 9.99

Monday, May 19, 2014

Want a Free Martian Scout Tripod?

With the Kickstarter orders hopefully at every pledge's door, Alien Dungeon has not slowed down in their promotion for pre-orders for the All Quiet on the Martian Front launch on June 16th. 

Now through May 22nd, if you order $100 of All Quiet product directly from Alien Dungeon, they're going to throw in a free Martian scout tripod.

 They've been pushing pre-orders for the game since the Kickstarter started shipping, and even for those people, if the pre-order was $100 or more, they're throwing in the scout tripod.  Pretty sweet. 


Check out the Architects of War website for more info.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Historicon 2014 PEL is Up!!!

In the chaos that is my life, I have a few absolutes.  One, unfortunately, is that I'm NOT going to Historicon this year.  That being said, I just realized the Preliminary Event Listing (PEL) is out, and it is chock full of awesomeness.   Makes me consider hitting the lottery or knocking off a few banks to eleviate my problems.

The PEL can be found here.

Here's the "Viscount Approved" events, with some commentary in italics.

Thursday
T-119 Ambush at Gross-Barmen (German South-West Africa, 1904)
Colonial; 7 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Roy Jones; Scale: 25mm; Rules: Sword and the Flame (Modified); No. of Players: 6.
German sailors from a Naval Landing Party march througha narrow defile. The Hereros wait in ambush, hidden in the boulder-strewn hills above. They realize that the Sanitation Carriage contains more than just medical supplies (maybe even cartridges!) The Herero plan: shoot the oxen, shoot the sailors, take the Carriage! From the new scenario book “The HereroWar”. More at www.hererowars.com.
I just mentioned last week that the Herero War book is finally out.  Here's a chance to play in one of the games


T-244 A Very British Battle

Inter-War; 7 PM; Length: 3 hrs; Hosted by: Robert Kerstetter; Scale:25mm; Rules: A Very British Civil War; No. of Players: 8.
The struggle for the very British town of Plushbottom takes place between the World Wars. Choose to back the monarchy support the black shirts, join the workers party, or do battle for the Anglican Church. Either way it will be fun.

T-385 Trench Wars: Britain 1938-A Very British Civil War Comes To Downton Abbey Theme
Inter-war; 7 PM; Length: 2 hrs; Hosted by: Frank Luberti Jr.; Scale: 28 mm; Rules: Trench Wars (modified); No. of Players: 8.
The Earl of Grantham fights for King and Country against Socialist militia commanded by his Irish revolutionary son in law. Novices, children with adults, rules lawyers and GMs looking for revenge welcome. Units named after Great Figures in HMGS history. Fans of Downton Abbey welcome. Kid Friendly Game.
Seriously, we have two games that are essentially both Very British Civil War running at the same time?  Gah!

F-232 The Great Safari Race by the Lower Potomac Incontinental Irregulars (Dismounted)
Colonial; 8 AM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Dave Timer; Scale: 28mm;Rules: Club Home Rules; No. of Players: 5.
Five Safaris of ardent explorers are racing into unknown parts of Africa in search of glory and riches beyond measure. Each party will attempt to conquer the unyielding environment and plunge into the heart of darkest Africa. The first Safari to return to the Start/Finish muddy village of M’Gumbaville with their treasure WINS. Each Bwana must outfit his safari in the village of Mgumbaville. You may onlytake a combination of porters, guards and companions that numbers 20. All safaris start and end in M’Gumbaville, unless ended by the death of the Bwana. Over 13 please.

F-208 Assault into Grozny, Chechnya, January 7, 1995
Modern; 9 AM Length: 4 hrs Hosted by: Mike Byrne Scale: 28mm Rules: Force on Force No of Players: 7.
After the Russian’s Army coup de main failed at the beginning of the year, the Russian Army is conducting a planned assault to retake Grozny from the Chechen National Guard and irregular forces. Elements of the 129th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment GMRR) are attacking to take positions as the Russian Armydrives to capture the Presidential palace. A mixture of Chechen irregular forces are defending against the 129th GMRR assault. Can the Chechens withstand the firepower of the Russian assault and bloody the Russian Army’s forces some more? Players under 14 years old if accompanied by an adult.
I've developed an interest in non-Middle Eastern modern action, so Chechnya is right up my alley

F-117 Battle of Latema Nek, WW1 East Africa, March 11, 1916 Theme
WWI; 10 AM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Tim Couper; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Piquet: Field of Battle 2 (with WW1 East Africa extensions); No. of Players: 5.
Allied troops under Gen Tighe advance into Tanganyika through the Latema & Reata hills. In spite of an ineffective reconnaissance of the steep jungled terrain, troops from India, East Africa and Rhodesia were ordered to take the Nek. Take command of a battalion or Feldkompanie! Gamers must be over 16, and be comfortable with the battle highs and lows characteristic of Piquet!
Game looks interesting, but the warning flags come up with "be comfortable with the battle highs and lows characteristic of Piquet"  screams, "Leave us alone, noobs!"

F-356 “A Disastrous, But Successful Fight” - Battle of Quingua, 23 April 1899
Colonial; 11 AM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Bob Giglio; Scale: 25mm;Rules: Soldier’s Companion, unpublished 2nd edition rules; No. of Players: 4.
The 1899-1902 Philippine War (or Insurrection) was an armed conflict between United States and Filipino revolutionaries. This often overlooked war (and for wargaming!) was during the age of Imperialism and Gunboat Diplomacy when America was “spreading her wings”. This early battle showed how determined the Philippine Army was to contest every inch of their thick near impenetrable jungle country. Gamers age 15 or older only.
THIS is the first event that makes me wish I go to Historicon.  Four players is a bit small.

F-387 Gnome Wars: The Castle in Teutoburg Forest
Gnomes; 2 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Steven Stanton; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Gnome Wars from Brigade Games; No. of Players: 10.
Description: On the retreat after losing their brewery in a fierce battle, Lon’s Lunkheads race to meet up with the rest of their clan at Elmore’s Castle. The Highlanders, Swiss, and Sikhs hope to catch and defeat Lon in order to crush his monopoly of the gnome beer market. Players with a painted “Gnomes atWar” unit from Brigade Games do not need pre-register. Rules will be taught. No one under age 14 without a playing adult. Father-son teams encouraged.
The traditional Gnome Wars game at Historicon, using the MBA Castle table.  One minor nitpick, Jim.  "Father-son"?  The Stout Gnomes should know some of the finest teams to appear at the table have been Father-Daughter!  And I'm not counting my kids, who are still in training!

F-297 Bubba’s Revenge

Modern Horror; 4 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Michael Moran; Scale: 25mm; Rules: Mein Zombie; No. of Players: 6.
Bubba just wanted to have a pig roast with a couple friends. Who knew it would end with each everyone becoming a zombie. Then a group of invaders came in stole his weapons, slaughtered his guests and left
Bubba for destroyed. Rules Taught Beginners welcome.
Mein Zombie looked fun at Cold Wars, this looks even better.

F-116 Klein-Barmen: Rosenberg’s Desperate Charge (German South-West Africa, 1904)
Colonial; 7 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Roy Jones; Scale: 25mm; Rules: Sword and the Flame (Modified); No. of Players: 6.
Concealed Herero riflemen, firing from boulder fighting positions, have stymied the German attack at Klein-Barmen. In a desperate move, Leutnant von Rosenberg is ordered to take his 5th Feldkompagnie, dash across unprotected open ground, and take the Herero position by storm! From the new scenario book “The Herero War”. More at: www.hererowars.com.
There's actually three different Herero Wars scenarios being run at the con.

F-397 Palestine 1917: Australian Light Horse at Beersheba [WW1] Theme
WWI; 7 PM; Length: 3 hrs; Hosted by: Pete Panzeri; Scale: 28mm; Rules: BLACK JACK RULES! (WW1); No. of Players: 20.
Brits and Anzacs attack the Ottomans at Beersheba in Palestine. Can they penetrate the Town’s defenses? And will “Lawrence’s Arabians” sweep in to help? Short-but-intense slugfest game of Random Events, Cheers! Music, Hats, Prizes! Awards NON-STOP FUN & MAYHEM! Email peterpanzeri@yahoo.com for free PDF of Scenario & BLACK JACK RULES! Experienced kids (9 & up) who can reach the center of a 6’ table are OK with a participating adult
I have the feeling this is another one that will make me wish I was there.  All I have to say is, I want pictures!

F-388 Gnome Wars: The Incident at Elmore’s Castle
Gnomes; 7 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Jim Stanton; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Gnome Wars from Brigade Games; No. of Players: 10.
The Allied forces have launched an all out assault on the German positions at Elmore’s Castle. The Germans, having been caught by surprise, are spread thin but are standing firm praying that the expected relief column is nearby. Players with a painted unit from Brigade Games do not need pre-register. Rules will be taught. No one under age 14 without a playing adult. Father-son teams encouraged
More classic Gnome Wars at the castle!

S-389 “War of the Wicked Witch’s Castle” Theme
Other; 9 AM; Length: 2 hrs; Hosted by: Pete Panzeri; Scale: 28mm; Rules: WICKED WITCH RULES! Classic Horror Fiction; No. of Players: 12.
“Classic Horror Fiction.” Emerald City Guards, Munchkin Grenadiers and assorted Land of Oz Witch-Hunters all go after the Wicked Witch of the East in her Castle. Can her Castle Guards, Flying Monkeys and other Horror Minions stop them? Short-but-intense game of Random Events, Cheers! Music, Hats, Prizes! Awards NON-STOP FUN & MAYHEM! Email peterpanzeri@yahoo.com for free PDF of WICKED WITCH RULES! Kids 7 & up who can reach the table are OK each with a participating adult.
And the third item that makes me go, GAH!  I want pictures just to update my Wizard of Oz posts!

S-236 Teddy Bear Roman Civil War

Ancients; 10 AM; Length: 2 hrs; Hosted by: James Reynolds; Scale: 25mm; Rules: Teddy Bear Picnic; No. of Players: 8.
Only one bear can be the emperor and rule the whole picnic. Join the forces of Yogius Caesar or Poohpey, and make history. Kids’ game.
Bears always make a great game, and a slightly calmer alternative to the Oz game that started an hour earlier.

S-310 Tank Battles for Wee Warriors

WWII; 10 AM; Length: 2 hrs; Hosted by: Brian Whitaker; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Home Rules; No. of Players: 8.
Tank Battles for Wee Warriors. Designed for the young and young at heart. Beginners expected. Whiney 40-year-olds must be accompanied by a responsible 6-year-old.
Even more kids stuff, all crammed in the exact same time slot.  What the hay!

S-331 THEM!! Again?

SciFi; 10 AM Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Karl Shanoltz; Scale: 15mm; Rules: Home Rules; No. of Players: 8.
Based on the 1954 version of THEM! 6 months have passed since the last encounter with the giant ants in Los Angeles. Now, outside San Diego, there have been reports of holes in the ground. You and your fellow commanders have been dispatched to investigate. Come and find out what’s in the caves. Players 12 and under must have a participating adult.
Fun classic sci-fi, yet again, a fairly kid-friendly game that's competing with Flying Monkeys, Teddy Bears, and Tanks!

S-444 Battle of the Toy Box Theme

Fantasy; 12 PM; Length: 2 hrs; Hosted by: Sammy Surdu; Scale: 28mm;
Rules: Milk and Cookies Rules; No. of Players: 6.
The lights are off and the people have gone to bed. It’s time for  the epic battle royale between the toy soldiers and the teddybears. Who will control the toy box by dawn? The HAWKS will be hosting one table of shorter games for Kids all day . Come help us introduce your kid to the fun of miniature gaming! Older gamers welcome with a participating kid.
And it continues with this one (again, pictures please!). 

S-286 The Great Bear Resurgent: Russian Invasion of Ukraine 2014
Modern; 1 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Jake Strangeway; Scale: 6mm; Rules: Command Decision Test of Battle; No. of Players: 6.
Ukraine has begun a descent into civil war. Pro-west forces clash with those who wish to join with Russia, and the violence escalates. When a coup overthrows the Ukrainian government, Putin decides it is time to move again. Mobilizing forces based in Germany, NATO troops roll eastward even as Russian troops roll westward. The two groups will meet in Western Ukraine for the first battle of what could be the Third World War…
A "grown-up" game that I hoping someone would put together...

S-390 Title: GNOME WARS - A Bunch of Hot Air!!
Gnomes; 2 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Brian Robinett; Scale: 28mm;
Rules: Gnome Wars from Brigade Games; No. of Players: 10. The Kaiser and the Jägermeisters are preparing to deploy yet another not-so-secret weapon in an effort to bring the war to a rapid conclusion. Can the Allies stop the Hun’s evil plans in time? Parent/Child teams encouraged. Bring your own 320 pt Brigade Games unit and there is no need to sign up. Prizes!!!
Another Gnome game, although I don't know what Brian has up his sleeve.

S-400 Gnome Wars: …just not the slowest!
Gnomes; 7 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Steven Stanton; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Gnome Wars from Brigade Games; No. of Players: 10.
A Middle Eastern Village, bombs dropping between the minarets, and a few hundred of your closest undead friends coming for a late-night feeding. To get away, you don’t have to be the fastest….. Anyone bringing five (5) painted Gnomes at War figures from Brigade Games does not have to preregister. No one under 14 without a playing parent/guardian.
Znombies and the MBA Middle East board.  I'm sold!  My guys would be hiding in the kitchen of the Fallafal House.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Mike Lung Gallery #25: The Adventures of Stan and Sally 2

Mike continues to tinker with All Things Zombie - Final Fade Out, and has already sent a second report using his Lego minions.  When we last left our heroes(?),  Sally had successfully killed a zombie but Stan was too cowardly to help her when she was outnumbered so she became one of them (Mwhwhahaha).

The Adventures of Stan and Sally
Part II
 Now where is our intrepid hero Stan?

Running Scared.... With a Giant Wrench
 Terrified from the horrifying events back at the store, Stan runs in panic deep into the woods.  The thoughts of his own cowardice in the face of danger and his failure to protect his girlfriend, Sally, from the monsters are almost too much to bear.

Into the woods....
 Wiping tears from his eyes, he spots a camper nearby.  Maybe there is someone there that can help or maybe he can find food and shelter.

Oh no!  Not again!
One of those things is shambling right outside the camper!

Another is lurking in the woods to his right.
With the pent-up anger powered by his previous failures, Sam races toward the nearby monster to take his revenge.

"This is for you, Sally!"
 A massive blow from his huge wrench knocks the creature to the ground

Who da man?  I'm da MAN!

Two more of those things appear nearby
 Surprisingly, the creature Stan had knocked to the ground with a crushing blow, stands back up, apparently unharmed!
What the.... AAAAIIIIIEEEEE!
 The creature lunges at uncomprehending Stan and procedes to bite out hunks of his flesh

mother....
The others join in the ghoulish feast

Today is just the "Stan"-dard Buffet
 Later that day, by some strange twist of fate, Stan is rejoined by his love, Sally.
And they ate brains happily ever after.
The End

Friday, May 16, 2014

Herero War Scenario Book Available

Every time I cover the events in the PEL, I always mention the Herero War scenarios.  I do this for multiple reasons (1) it's a labor of love for the authors, and after just my little foray into Samoa, I empathize with them (2) the Herero War is a German colonial conflict, and that hits my sweet spot and (3) the games at the cons are very basic, yet look great, and everyone has a great time. 

After more years than I wish to recall, Roy Jones, Jr and Eric Alvarado finally have their definitive scenario book in print through Recreational Conflict.


The book is 184 pages and covers the history of the conflict, a set of rules for the era, largely based off of The Sword and the Flame, and thirteen scenarios.  It's a decent size small press book for $36, when much thinner books fetch $20-25.

Fun gnome-related fact:  Eric Alvarado is the inspiration behind the Captain Alvarado character who leads the Gnome Pirates.

(Edited: 5/19/2014, to reflect the corrected information provided by Dr. Roy Jones in the comments)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Mike Lung Gallery #24: The Adventures of Stan and Sally

I daresay, it's been months since I've had a Mike Lung update!  Mike's trying to balance crazy life and numerous projects, although his latest needed to be reposted immediately.

The latest fascination is with Two Hour Wargames'  All Things Zombie - Final Fade Out.  The figures are not metal or even Bones plastic, but they do the job admirably.

The Adventures of Stan and Sally

Stan and Sally on the morning of their big adventure

Stan and Sally get out of their broken down car.  Why are those people acting so strangely?

There's a lot of them.  Something is really wrong with them!

Watch out Sally!  Don't let it bite you!

I can't believe you just killed him!  There are so many more.  Run!

Maybe we'll be safe in that store.

They are following us!  Quick grab those tools as weapons!

Help me Stan!... There are too many... No! No! Noooo!  Ahhhh!!

Aahh!  Let me out of here!  Mmrhh! Chomp! Rip! Slurp!

Mmrrhh!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

(Review) Canis Mysterium

After much delay, I finally got a copy of Canis Mysterium (Chaosium 23124).  Unlike other books that have been out longer, I was excited to get this as it's (a) a stand alone CoC supplement and (b) is only $10.95.  I wasn't expecting a large tome for that price, and I wasn't disappointed.

Plot:  It's 1930 and a team of researchers and students (Psychology) from Miskatonic are called to the town of Coldwater Falls to investigate a man who acts like a dog, a particularly violent one if the evidence proves correct.

Any CoC player of any experience is anticipating the big bad hiding around Coldwater Falls (hint: it's NOT a werewolf) and the cover of the scenario helps seal it.   Outside a few possible deviations, your assumption holds true.

While I understand the plot device to drop this into the 1930s, this scenario feels in a better like a scenario for beginning players/investigators and that sort of avoids large swaths of Chaosium's product line without some possibly significant revisions.  With that said, the 32 page scenario could greatly benefit from the removal of the ghastly artwork and the inclusion of six pregenerated investigators.  If a keeper were to run this, the precluded notion that everyone is part of the Miskatonic U's Department of Biology to achieve the ultimate motivations should demand such an inclusion.

Despite my excitement for a relatively inexpensive, stand-alone published scenario, there are better and longer scenarios offered for free on the Chaosium and yog-sothoth.com websites.  It's with much sadness, that I must rate this book just one gnome out of five.


There are so many better books and scenarios that deal with the big baddie that I can't justify this purchase other than a test run of the special ordering from my new FLGS.

In fairness, I may come to run this if I stumble upon a group of new people interested in learning RPGs and interested in mysteries.  It's not The Haunting, but I could justify building all those pre-gens. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Miniaturizing Legends of Oz and Oz: The Great and Powerful

I can't imagine it's almost been two years since I started my research on miniatures for The Wizard of Oz.  Little has been done on the purchasing front, save the fact that I finally put my choice of figures for the Winkies on my Want List.

To help celebrate my daughter Maja's fifth birthday, we all went out to see Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns.  The movie is stuck in the middle somewhere between a horrible direct-to-DVD one and a Disney mega-picture.  Despite a huge cast of well-known actors doing the voices, the animation varies wildly, the plot is too cheesy even for a kid's movie, and it severely deviates from the source material of Dorothy of Oz, the kids loved it.  I, however, have learned to hate any and all Martin Short performances after The Three Amigos.  You can read an Oz-o-philes review of it here.

We also got Maja a copy of Oz: The Great and Powerful.  Definitely PG-material, but the girls enjoyed a few shocks and screams, and no one woke up with nightmares.

Now that we're back on track with a property that could dim the shining status of Frozen in my household, the question then turns to, "How can we game with this in miniatures?"

Let's start with Legends of Oz, where I'll try to combine the book with the movie.  I ask you to reference the first link in the post to reference characters in the original movie and either or both of the newer movies.

Candy County -  While Marshall Mallow is a character made up for the movie, I like the concept, and it can easily be replicated using Eureka's Toy Town figures, perhaps using from green stuff to sculpt a squarer face.
Stolen from One More Gaming Project
The chocolate soldiers are perhaps the easiest to represent on mass.  The appear to be a bit smaller than Dorothy, so it's safe to buy a bag of 15mm Napoleonics, paint them up in milk chocolate brown with some highlights and shading, and BOOM instant army.

Dainty China Country - There appears to be two troop types in Dainty China Country:  Those defending the walls have a medieval feel to them, while the ones in the final battle look Napoleonic.  Due their short stature, I would go with 10mm figures for effect, although I can easily see 6mm.  Lots of pastels are in their color palette and I definitely recommend a super-shiny sealer for the porcelain effect.  If one can find 10mm civilians, you can use them for citizens/traveling companions.

Jester: Good God, with the dozens of manufacturers making thousands of medieval or fantasy figures, you would think there would be an honest to God normal jester that isn't a bloated lout or finishing his apprenticeship in necromancy.  Need some help here, people!

Mice Queen:  While there is a princess mousling coming out with the next batch of Bones, her subjects/bodyguards fit the Mice Warrior line from Eureka.

Wiser:  I'm going to slightly cheat here, like I have with previous characters.  Giant (read: FAT) owls are more common in children's toys than miniatures.  If you want an adventurous owl with some heft, I might recommended one of the more humanoid owlbear figures from Reaper:


Oz: The Great and Powerful

Oz Troops  In Great and Powerful, the Winkies are noted as being the guards to Oz AND the land-based shock troops to the wicked wicked witch. They also aren't green-skinned (yet?) and dressed like Vlad the Impalers shock troops.  For this I may need the help from the internet in love with Napoleonics.  I can't figure out what nationality to use for the troops.  Greatcoats are also usually worn, plus big feathers or furry hats. 

Here's Bruce Campbell to help you out with your thinking caps.


The Wizard: Finding a pure sideshow charlatan/barker is proving harder than I thought.  Not that the Wizard should be in combat (and his other form is a bit unwieldy for a gaming table), but with a little modeling this Deadlands Huckster might fit the bill:

Stolen from Bandit86
Quadlings/Tinkers:  Outside of trickery and collateral damage, the Quadlings couldn't call shotgun for a car seat, much less harm anyone else.  A mixture of Medieval, Renaissance, and even up through western townsfolk to randomly flee across the table should do.

Flying Monkeys:  There looks to be three different types of flying monkeys in Oz, the witch's monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, the far-more violent flying baboons of the wicked witch in this movie, plus the smaller, friendlier version like Finley.  I can't find any flying baboons or bellhop monkeys, so I recommend using either Eureka and Alien Dungeons versions. 

Evanora:  I'm going to be lazy here.  Any Reaper female wizard with an amulet will fill her role as King's Advisor, pre-Wizard.  I found a dozen different hag figures for post-hag Evanora.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Black Man

It was great weekend for the family.  Of course Mothers Day went off without a hitch and the kids managed to get a tan over the first decent weekend of the year.   Couple of things:

The guys over at Emerald Vale pulled through and I snagged a my copy of Canis Mysterious without a hitch.  Still, trying to figure out the format of the review, it's a peculiar little product.  They also got some Ticket to Ride in, so Fathers Day might be easier for my wife. 

Took Maja and Millie to see Legends of Oz.  Between that movie and Oz : Great and Powerful playing in the house last night, I'll also have a some updates to another post I made long ago.  Maybe I'll even tackle a popular children's movie, or perhaps I should just it go...

Over this past week, I've overheard a few odd conversations with the girls.  Instead of their normal "Let's pretend," with princesses, ponies, and babies, they kept talking about "The Black Man" in hushed tones.  Since we live in a rather pale community, yet I don't remember my wife or I discussing anyone with that phrase, I was confused.  Further talks with girls netted a little more disturbing info:  The Black Man lives in a secret room under their bedroom and some nights they go there after everyone falls asleep.

Between the facts that we personally know every male figure they deal with (yes, yes I know the stats, I'm still confident of my statement) and their stories are filled with gleeful giggles, I've come to these two conclusions.

1. They've learned about telling scary "campfire" stories from some of the older kids at daycare, and this is their imaginative, giggling attempt to scare themselves.

2.  They've made contact with Nyarlathotep.  Guess I should stop reading Masks at bedtime.

At least it wasn't Y'golonac.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Eastern Ukraine is Mine!

With all the talk recently of Pro-Russian Separatists, some of you who don't mind gaming active conflicts may want to play some Eastern Ukraine urban scenarios. Thanks to  Stan Johansen Miniatures new Insurgents in Western Dress, you have more figures to choose from.

Sure, they're missing ski masks and such, but they look appropriate for taking on Ukrainian Security forces, or dashing across the streets a Sarajevo.   $15 for 5 figures.

Friday, May 9, 2014

ALLIANCE Aloud: Game Trade Magazine News!

Outside of one of the bloggers I follow returning from a cruise of the Western Mediterranean, and another with pictures from a giant Seven Year's War game, the blogs have fallen silent as of recently.  It can be anticipated I had a (as the kids say) OMG/WTF/BBQ!!!!! moment when this popped up on my feed.

ALLIANCE Aloud: Game Trade Magazine News!: Dear GTM Retailers / Readers, We here at Game Trade Magazine ( GTM ) have some exciting news to share with you! We’ve decided to spru...

Here, they're simply going to glossy paper for the interior.  As often as I've seen Game Trades pile up in the corner of the gaming section, or collect dust, as the store staff only cares about product lines A, B, and C.  Going glossy is probably on the bottom of most store owner's list to improvements on the order book.

Back in my day (selling comics, pogs and Magic cards up hill both ways in the snow) we were happy to get a description of a product in the monthly solicitations.  Heck, sometimes I swear the sheets were mimeographed from sheet typed up on an actual typewriter... and this was the 90's!

Alliance raised the bar with Game Trade, giving stores a vehicle to solicit pre-orders from the their customers, thus resulting in better sales, better inventory control, and better budgeting.  Here in Pennsylvania, I don't believe I've ever seen a store take advantage for this technique, simply because they're exhausted/bewildered from Diamond/Previews arrangement it's modeled after, and Previews generates more business for them. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

(Kickstarter) 28mm Modular Gladiator Arena & Accessories

As I was cleaning up my desk at work yesterday, I found a copy of the Old Glory catalog and started going through it.   Sorry, no earth-shattering revelations to be made, except some may notice the Voynuk Infantry added to my Want List.  I'm no where near starting my Wizard of Oz project, but it doesn't mean I can't watch the movies with my kids while painting some Winkies.

Again, no great surprises perusing the book:  I might want to look into accumulating Spanish-American and Boxer Rebellion figs, maybe a few WWI vehicles, and perhaps seeing how cost-effective it would be to convert my Battle of Yellowstone from gnomes to normal figures.  Who wouldn't want to paint 20+ buffalo in 25mm?

Then I hit the Gladiator section in the back and my scheming was awoken from its long slumber.  Gladiator games are quick, easy, and with the right environment, fun for the whole family.  I still have a pile of figures hiding in a box somewhere.  It's a long-range goal of mine to get this set up.

Then this shows up this morning. 
I'm a huge fan of this, even though the 10-piece set, with shipping from England is going to run almost $180.  With the modular sections and the different pdf playmats they're offering, I can imagine a nice campaign (league?) wandering around the arenas of the Roman World.  Tempting, but I've got much bigger fish to fry right now at home.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #3: In Search of Adventure... and a Name

Octdec, 1132 - Quaseton, Southwest Marakeikos

After the Nubian joined the group, it consisted of. 
  • Mutumbo:  Nubian warrior wandering around strange world where, if the gods weren't crazy, their believers were.   While not the most talented in the party, he obviously demonstrated the most experience, thus his continuing ability to take a pummeling and not complain about it made Zorin give his begrudging respect.
  • Zorin Redrock, Gnome Titan Fighter. Veteran of the Barbarian Wars against the Gnomish City-States, Zorin had retired and has honing his skills for future glory in Markakeikos. Unfortunately, his near bloodthirsty disdain for humans was putting a crimp in his plans.
  • Gwendylyn Lorax, Half-Elf Druid. Even a Druid of the native Rifflani Elves needed a moment or two in the dirty city for supplies and information.
  • Janus Redrock, Gnome Titan Priest of Pangrus. Zorin's cousin.  Looking for brawling and booty (both financial and otherwise), Janus made the killing machine of Zorin even more effective
  • Brother Thomas, Human Monk. It was never ascertained exactly which monastic order Thomas originated from, only that he could indeed kick ass.
  • Esmerelda, a quiet, unassuming human thief, possibly skilled in gold digging, and I'm quite certain she put no BPs into any mining skill.
  • Marek the Mage, some claim this bookish human magic-user acted like a prick when he was drunk, but his true friends knew the truth: unless you dealt with him in the matters of magic, he was a jerk regardless of sobriety.
The party did a bit more traveling, taking up odd caravan jobs up and down the main trade.  Sometimes they encountered some nuisance goblins or rescue the equivalent of a kitten up a tree, but things were relatively calm.    They even managed to make an ill-timed journey up to Frandor's Keep with no success of bigger things.    They did lose Esmerelda to some goblins, or a trap on a treasure chest.  Regardless, they found another thief:
  • Nina, a LOT like Esemerelda, except that she only had eyes for the black man.  And no, for the record, she never went back.
Things finally began to turn around when they cleaned out a troll-kin lair and discovered an old map detailing the construction specs for a stronghold named Quaseton.
Quaseton was the home of two native Traldar adventurers, Zelligor and Roghann.  They had built their massive compound in secret, deep within the woods, to maintain their privacy.   Rumors has pervaded the inns and taverns that the two met a horrible fate and that their home was ripe for the picking, yet every group claiming to travel there for fame and fortune never returned.  Zorin & Company decided to see if the rumors of Gods truly guarding this sanctuary were true, and off they went.

Travel to Quaseton was quiet, although there was one encounter with a low-flying dragon with all the colors of the rainbow that gave them pause.  Once they got into the complex, they quickly discovered five things.
  1. The other parties claiming to travel there did make it in, but were killed by Zelligor and Roghann's orc guards.
  2. The amount of traps and vermin (both traditional and extraordinary) resulted in a paltry amount of treasure.  Unless they were to set fire to everything they saw to kill everything hiding, this wasn't worth their time.
  3. They were trapped in the dungeon by a huge one-way door.
  4. The living quarters where they assumed great treasure netted them next to nothing, save a strange room with multiple pools of different liquids.   Mutumbo dipped his spear into one of them and it began to glow (turning into a Magic Spear +1)
  5. The orc guards had not left their posts, they had plenty of provisions, and, oh yeah, they were total badasses.  By the time the group waded through orcs and found a staircase leading down below, they were in pretty bad shape. 
The bottom level was again paltry with treasure, but the caverns were full of piercers and shriekers... and an entire tribe of troglodytes.  These humanoids blocked the only obvious exit from the caves, and thus a week long guerrilla battle was fought.  At some point during this battle, everyone of the party members was struck near death, only to be barely brought back alive by Janus, and probably a beaming Pangrus smiling down on the mayhem.  Finally with provisions low, the group managed to elude the few trog guards left posted while the rest of the survivors of the tribe went on an outside hunting party.    At this point their pack animals either had scattered or had been eaten by predators, and that was too much for Zorin to take.    After another dose of magical healing and sunshine, they waiting for the next trog hunting party to leave and they went back in.  No mercy was given to the remaining trogs, and some could claim that Zorin slowly tortured a few, rather than killing them outright.  They then took whatever oil or other flammable items they could find and set the camp ablaze, including the incapacitated but alive Trogs.    After that, they caused a cave in at the exit to the cave, and sat in hiding.  As the trog hunting party returned, the surprised them, and gave them a similar fate.  

This is why, when the stench rises off the Milosic plateau and enters the southwest corner of Marakeikos, commoners claim it's just the fires of the Burning Trogs, still burning away at the corpses of the foul creatures.

And thus, the Burning Trogs were born.

Outside of the collection of scars and lingering injuries, no one got much of note out of Quaseton, save Mutumbo.  While the group got little more than a potion or a scroll or two, Mutumbo netted two items that would serve him well for his remaining days:  the magic spear that had been enchanted by the odd pool, as well as a Cursed Tower Shield -1 that was part of the troglodytes' treasure.

Next:  Episode 4 - Keep Out of the Borderlands

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

(Review) Emerald Vale Games, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

As I mentioned on my recap of Free Comic Book Day, I spied a flier hanging on the door for some game store and their April grand opening in the Wilkes-Barre.  I quickly rearranged our planned shopping with the girls (yay, new cordless drill) and hunted for this alleged place known as Emerald Vale Games.

Location:  838 Sans Souci Parkway  Wilkes-Barre, PA 18706.   The Sans Souci (San Sue-wee to out-of-towners) was the big pre-interstate road linking the cities of Nanticoke and Wilkes-Barre, so it still sees a good deal of traffic.  The store itself is in one of many mini-strip malls lining the road, and it took a bit to find it in its corner location.  They also haven't put up any permanent signage yet, so that will prevent random customers from wandering off the road.  Ironically, the best directions for someone looking for it that it's the strip mall to the right of D&D Motors. 
Edit 01/21/2015 Emerald Vale Games has  moved right down the street to 109 West End Rd Wilkes-Barre, PA, next to Colarusso's Pizza, a mere two blocks or so away from the original location.

Edit 01/26/2016 Emerald Vale has gone through a business reorganization, and now Evolution Games is at 7 Lee Park Ave, Wilkes Barre, PA 18706.  A review of the new store can be found here.

The "Kid Test":  As I've done before, bringing a 3 and 5-year old into the store with me really pushes the limits of a family game store.  They're pretty good kids, but still, they're 3 and 5! The good news is the proprietors, Joe and Brad, as well as Brad's wife, took it all in stride. I won't bring them in often, but the kids felt welcomed.   I also apologize for the years of therapy the decorative stuffed animal turtles will need after my girls found them. 

Cleanliness:  I've been to plenty of hole in the wall stores, old and new, that made me feel like getting a tetanus booster immediately after I left.  That is NOT the case here.  Carpet was clean, save for the game table they were constructing in the corner, everything was well-lit, no missing ceiling tiles, and the walls had a new bright coat of paint on them.  It's amazing how many established stores miss the mark in this category.

Amenities:  The store hosts three large permanent hand-built gaming tables with separate padded bench seating, one folding table with chairs, and the hopefully the slightly taller miniatures table I previously mentioned was finished.  The front counter is an all-wood rock solid command post with a view of the whole store.  Snacks range from water and Gatorade to Hot Pockets (with microwave) and chips.

Perhaps the most ingenious thing I saw there was the positive use of empty space.  While they just opened and I hope plenty of wall space will soon be filled by racks of product, they used chalkboard paint on sections of it and used it as a bulletin board.  Tournament dates, a Seeking Games board, even a trade board for Magic cards.  


All bow down to the power of dice!

A great rule #2 after rule #1: General Hygiene

A small, but solid, base of product
Merchandise, merchandise, merchandise!  So what does Emerald Vale stock?  Not much, although when you open up a few weeks prior and don't have a delusional half-million dollar budget, that's the way one must go.  Their stock shelves did cover the basics of gaming:  Settlers, Munchkin, and some Game of Thrones LCG.  They get bonus points from me for their apparent love affair with Chessex.  I saw more Chessex minis cases and dice sets there than I have at the last six stores I stepped foot in, and that's a very good thing.  Rule #3: Dice and CCG packs are the only true impulse buys in a game store, and not everyone plays CCGs

Role-Playing: They did have a large enough section of Pathfinder to make someone go, "Oooh Pathfinder," but nothing else.  RPGs can be fickle, so their turnaround time is longer than the other categories.  I'm certain I'll see this grow each week, book by book.

Miniatures:  A store must deal with their customer base, and the ones that have come in have requested 40K.  As an individual gamer, this saddens me, as a former store manager, it makes me twitch, but if they're exchanging cash for product, I can not fault anyone for this situation.  A store full of Games Workshop fans making purchases is far better than a wall of product from another line gathering dust.

CCGs:  Outside of a nice conversion with Joe and one of the Magic players about the game, I didn't look too closely to what product was out for sale.  Their website says they stock Magic, Pokemon, and Cardfight Vanguard, so I'll take their word on that.  After years of seeing them solicited in Game Trade, I finally saw some of the next generation of play mats, and I can honestly say that they're pretty impressive.

Emerald Vale Games has succeeded in forcing me to do something I've never done before.  On the World Famous Gaming with the Gnomies Five Gnome Rating Scale I must give them an Incomplete.


Don't get me wrong, this is not a negative thing.  These poor folks have been in business for less than a month!   That's like getting an employee review an hour into your first day of work!   They're still very much a work-in-progress. 

My only major gripe as a wanna-be store owner would be the signage, and possibly advertising.  Without them, it's just word of mouth (and blog), and that only goes so far. 

That being said, I see a LOT of promise with this store, and yes, that statement includes some bias as to the proximity of it to my house.   Unlike some of the established stores, I will have the opportunity to try them out with special orders, stop in for a game night or eighteen, and watch them evolve through their first year, and hopefully beyond. 

UPDATE 5/8 - I swung by the store yesterday, moreso to snag a quick drink and some dice for the girls than my special order.  The miniatures table was almost finished, with a second one in the planning stages.  Everyone was busy sorting Magic cards (yes they sell cards... and in a similar vein they take credit cards too... that was a pleasant surprise).  Joe was very apologetic that the shipment with my special order hadn't come in.  He explained in detail the comedy of minor errors through the whole process that delayed things a day.  I may be the only person in the county that appreciated (and completely understood) what he was talking about.  Little secret:  I'm not worried about my copy of Canis Mysterium coming in... but I will snag it up on Friday, and pay cash for it).

UPDATE 11/05 - The six month follow-up is here.