Saturday, April 30, 2016

My RAFM Order Has... Arrived???

The Rapture is coming, it's the end of the world, or at least it's going to snow...

My RAFM Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition minis arrived yesterday... at my old house. 

*Grumblegrumble I updated my address on the backer survey on the same day we closed on our house (May 30, 2014)*

I am simply happy the great Canadian nightmare is over and I can attempt to use these for a number of games.

I'll get better pictures together. 


Twenty-seven months after the campaign was launched, I have 21 figures.  To complicate the 32mm figures towering over my other miniatures, which I well expected, a number of the figure have a gauntly thin side view.  To complicate things further, some of the metal bases that get inserted into the slot bases are too thin to mount without packing material, while others are so thick that I needed to expand the space on the plastic base by 50%. 
(L to R) Kickstarter, Metal Magic, Pulp Figures, Kickstarter, and prior RAFM Kickstarter
The only figure I have issue with sculpt-wise was the Wind Walker (that was a free stretch goal add-on). 

Here's the design sketch:

And here's the figure provided, something I would expect from the Hackmaster miniature line more than a decade ago:

Despite all the catastrophes related to getting the Kickstarter out, it could be worse.  You could have pledged to the City-State of the Invincible Overlord, which had the same December 2014  delivery date and is absolutely nowhere near done.  With all the stretch goals and add-ons promised, it was a well-telegraphed train wreck, so I simply pledged $1 to get good seats to watch that.  I unfortunately did the same thing for Horrors of War.  My only overdue Kickstarter that's left is Pyramid of the Lost King

After all has been said and done, these get added to the pile of now-61 new miniatures.  I see instant use for the Summoning Stones, Ewe Cowles, Jack Brady, and surprisingly, the Wind Walker.

Friday, April 29, 2016

(D&D) Plane Shift: Zendikar

Wizards of the Coast has released a free supplement to allow D&D players to run games in the most recent settings of the Magic: the Gathering universe.

Plane Shift: Zendikar is a 38-page pdf with a brief overview of the setting, a stout listing of background and stat traits of the five races:  Human, the Kor, Mermen, Goblins, and Vampires. 
It also includes a bestiary that covers the significant beasts of the world. Three creatures, the Archon of Redemption, the Kraken, and the Felidar are fully statted out.   WotC wisely offers comparable stat blocks from the Monster Manual for many creatures, providing modifications for the more unique versions of certain monsters. 
Felidar
For the 20+ years of Magic's existence, there have always been rumors and wasted efforts to convert the game world(s) to D&D.  While this doesn't include the Hurloon Minotaurs, Uthden Trolls, or a sorcerer named... Tim, it's a start. 

 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

(Savage Rifts) The Glitterboy

It's going to be a long three weeks if I'm going to be this big of a Rifts homer.  I'll try to calm it down.

With the second update regarding the Rifts® for Savage Worlds Kickstarter, PEG unveiled all the stretch goals up to $200,00.  That was cool and all, but the then they provided a link to a teaser preview for the framework of the Glitterboy.

The teenage version of me may have peed a little.

Or the old man version of me has an enlarged prostate.  Either way, this is totally awesome!

Savage Worlds can be deceptively sleek or deceptively clunky, depending on how you're using the system.  I can see the streamlining from Savage Worlds in the text, but it still feels like Rifts. 

CoC #32: Masks of Nyarlathotep #12 The Mountain of the Black Wind

April 7, 1925
Two of the investigators, Dr Bob Wintermute, Professor of History at Miskantonic University and Joshua Wanisko, Chemical Engineer and a man well out of place, had just made it downstairs to the hotel bar for some pre-dinner libations, along with their new-found friend, Father Dorian Dolan, an Anglican Priest and overzealous wanker who just happened to arrive in Egypt to convert the unwashed masses (Welcome back Aaron to the playgroup!).

For Wintermute it was the first trip down around the lobby in many days since his incident in the Egyptian desert had stolen his friends, his health, and a slice of his sanity, but it was a bold step to not be in constant physical pain. 

In a scene largely a mirror image of a few days prior, Steven O'Hara, Doctoral Student of Physics at Columbia University staggered in with the ex-French Foreign Legion merc, Francois Guerin, both covered in sand and road grime.

Steven filled in the blanks while Dr Bob had been incapacitated.  Steven and notable author/parapsychologist Dr. Nathaniel Millheim had traced back the clues to Bob's research and ultimately found a secret chamber at a Carlysle dig site and had a face to face encounter with... The Black Pharaoh.   O'Hara escaped with a shattered Guerin, while Doc Millheim and their hired Egyptian muscle disappeared. 

It was time for some bookkeeping.  Numerous telegrams had arrived:
  • Joseph Carrington rescinded the letter of credit toward the party.  Joshua was formerly recalled.
  • Jonah Kensington confirmed receipt of Doc Millheim's latest fiction.  Forwarded them £500.  
  • Kensington also acknowledged that Doc Millheim's secretary "Betty" had cleaned out his office and was working out of Prospero Press.  "Say hi to Brian, please."
Despite Steven's confirmation to the Black Pharaoh that the group would stop Jackson Elias' investigation,
"Going to spring Nate after this..."

April 8, 1925
They visited Dr Karfour at the Egyptian Museum and upon discussion, uncovered that Dr Bob had been the only one to read Life As a God and realized that it described the Black Pharaoh's throne room. 

They noticed in the papers that the library of the Mosque of Ibn-Turan had been destroyed.   The investigators realized that they were marked men, no matter what Steven had promised Nylarathotep, so they booked immediate passage to Mombassa.

April 9, 1925
Departed for Mombassa

April 12, 1925
Arrived in Mombassa unscathed.   Spent their day talking with those interested in the Carlysle Expedition.   The Lieutenant had perished in a suspicious fire a few years previous and the rest of the leads seemed to be in Nairobi.  Two elephant guns were procured and train passage to Nairobi purchased.

April 13, 1925
Left the Mombassa Train Station, headed for Nairobi

April 14, 1925
Early in the morning, the faint light of Nairobi nearly in view.   The Reverend could not sleep and was pacing between the dining car and the Whites-only car.  He heard what could only be described as a "sizzle" from the front of the train, and a flaming object pass the window on the train.  This flame paused in front of the window of the other investigators, pressed up against the wooden walls of the car, and appeared to seep through the cracks, lighting everything around it that was flammable.

The rest of the investigators awoke to a growing conflagration in the car. 

The Reverend and Doctor Bob tried to hunt down water,  Francois tried to beat the fire out, and Steven rushed to wake up the other civilized passengers.

The flames danced around the investigators but no one was getting harmed.  

Wintermute and Rev Dolan finally found a little water in the dining car, but also discovered a blue dancing flame working its way to them.  They dashed water on the blue flame, but the first class car was fully engulfed.   They then worked to the second class car and successfully uncoupled the rear cars.

Back in the fire, things had escalated quickly.  Neither Francois  nor Steven could hold themselves together, with the strange fire and a women getting burnt alive in front of their eyes.  Francois went delusional, thinking the world was on fire, running right off the back of the track, while Steven jumped out a window to safety.  Both took significant bumps and bruises. 

By the time Francois and Steven recovered and got back to the tracks, they were forced to dodged the first class and dining cars rolling back downhill, completely aflame, with no survivors.

Through the early morning hours, the investigators were interrogated heavily by authorities, but with little evidence that they were at fault (no cigars, lighters, etc). 

They finally reached the Hampton House Hotel and rested for the entire first day in Nairobi.

April 16, 1925
The investigators visited the headquarters for the King's African Rifles and spoke with Captain Montgomery.  He confirmed Lt Selkirk's death a year and a half previous, right before he arrived and assumed command.  He introduced them to Sergeant Bumpkin, the only person remaining who had seen the site of the massacre.  He was an ornery folk.  Wintermute pushed matters further, under his insurance investigator persona, but the soldiers referred all additional questions to the Office of Internal Affairs of the Kenya Colony.     They also inquired about Nails Nelson and Bumpkin referred them to the Quartermaster's Club. 

The head of Internal Affairs, Roger Croidon had been the lead investigator at the Carlysle massacre and actively fought any idea that the stories didn't match up.  Previous  insurance investigators had come asking to resolve the incident efficiently, and he obliged them. 

They uncovered the location of guide Sam Maringa, who knew little, but was willing to take them up to the mountains. 

Next they searched for Johnstone Kenyatta.  Kenyatta was receptive to an honest plea for help and information and scheduled a special meeting the next night.

Nails Nelson was a certified drunkard and could vaguely remember running into Jack Brady in a bar in Hong Kong, but not much else.   He was also a self-reputed guide when he wasn't drinking and offered to lead them to the Mountain of the Black Wind for a nominal fee.

April 18, 1925
That night, they stowed away their larger weapons at the hotel and met with Kenyatta.  He blindfolded them, led them through the streets of town, hopped into an automobile which took them to the "Blacktown" section of Nairobi.  They then switch cars, switched guides, and reached a bright yellow Rolls Royce.  The Rolls drove them to a small village outside of the city, whence they disovered their contact, Okuma, had been personally driving them.  Okuma turned around, pulled a large handgun out of nowhere and demanded a reason why he should proceed.  It took a lot of stuttering and yammering, but the investigators satisfied his demands, at least temporarily.      The Rolls drove them to a nearly identical village.   Okuma led them to a hut, where a withered old man was in a meditative trance.  The investigators were told to wait until he returned. 

Nine hours later, the man awoke, stood up, and told each of the investigators a piece of their heart.

To Father Dolan, he showed up to all this a bit too late.  He may already be beyond help.

To Francois, he showed up at the right time, but the penalties for your knowledge would be severe.

To Wintermute, perhaps studying the traditions of the natives of your land would have been more benefit to your well-being.

To Steve, he would share his mad knowledge with the world, one way or another.

The old man warned them that the Mountain of the Black Wind was what others called Mt Kenya.  It was a desolate area where little lived.  The priestess of the Bloody Tongue was M'Weru and her minions kidnapped dozens from local tribes to satiate the appetite of their god with sacrifices. He also gifted them a small box with a chameleon inside with instructions to release when they need the greatest help from evil.   The also received what could be best described as an African fly swatter "to protect them."

They return to Nairobi the same meandering way that they had left.

April 19, 1925
Both Sam Mariga and Nails Nelson leading, they leave for Mountain of the Black Wind.


The visit the site of the massacre.  Everything within the site was barren, with scorch marks and a disgusting black seeping substance oozing out of the rocks.  Outside the site, the world was sparse, but at least showed signs of life. 

April 22, 1925
While working up Mt Kenya, they discovered a separate path leading into the mountain itself.

They worked through the passageways to come up a strange room with a great throne and a cage full of naked men, women, and children.  They released the captives and instructed Sam to lead them back to the closest village. 

They uncovered yet another secret entrance behind the throne which led up.    Upon reaching the top of the rise, they looked down upon a collapsed lava dome with human construction built around.  There was deafening chanting surrounding an African woman and her fifty bodyguards.   Torches were lit by the bodyguards and they reached out to light other torches.  To barely visible persons at the edge of the dome.  These light multiplied out to the horizon, unveiling thousands upon thousands of followers of the Bloody Tongue. 

The distance between the cultists, their priestess, and their bodyguards was prohibitive.  Wintermute grabbed a Tommy Gun and mowed down the men rather ineffectually, by that incited the cultists. 

The Priestess cast a spell at the group and Wintermute countered with a great beast from beyond.  M'Weru's talents stunted the beasts effectiveness. 

They released the chameleon and it exploded in size.  It pushed most of the investigators into the lava dome, before racing down to meet the charging cultists, but in doing so it caught Nails unawares and crush him into the rock wall. 

Steven tried to sneak down closer to the distant alter, only to slide down to it uncontrollably.  Francois followed suit.   On the altar was a woman, whom Steve recognized as Hypatia Masters, photographer on the Carlysle Expedition.    She was quite pregnant, with something near-reptilian clawing its way out of her stomach.  Francois went mad, but Steven managed a single shot of his rifle at the distorted fetus (?), only angering it. 

Steven waited no time, grabbing Francois and scaling up the lava dome to the secret passageway.    With the Priestess nowhere to be found and the creature "transforming" it was best to leave the way they came and leave Kenya as soon as possible, if no sooner. 

With no guide traversing the wilderness was difficult, but they were able to find a small copse of trees when they turned around and saw the transformation complete. 

Oh boy....
No one else went mad with the great reveal of the God of the Bloody Tongue, but the journey back to Nairobi, and hopefully Mombassa would not be easy.  Cultists that survived the dark god's arrival, traipsed the land like the psychopaths they truly were, hacking at anything and everything, including each other.    The shadows of the forest only shielded them from the horrible fate of Sam Mariga and the rescued villagers, some hideous new form with four legs and large as majestic oaks feasted on their remains. 

Shanghai was in the back of everyone's minds, but survival through the night was the first priority.

RIP Bertram "Nails" Nelson  1888-1925 - There was a reason Jack Brady didn't tell you anything...
Outside of early rolls by Steven and Francois, all the bad rolls stayed on my side of the screen.  This allowed a section of Masks with multiple-TPK possibility into multiple warning shots, yet the investigators only achieved minor success by staying alive...

Next Episode:  #13 - From the Ashes of Kenya

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

(Kickstarter) Rifts for Savage Worlds

In my latest post (typed up last night), I pondered when the Kickstarter for Savage Rifts was going to launch, much less when it would actually arrive. 

*BOOM*


 Pinnacle Entertainment Group is pleased to announce the Kickstarter for Rifts for Savage Worlds, (hereafter referred to as "Savage Rifts") under license from Palladium Books.


It wouldn't be Rifts if there weren't a ton of books available:  The Tomorrow Legion Player's Guide, the Game Master's Handbook, and Savage Foes of North America are all available as parts of pledge levels, or as additional add-ons (Limited Edition hardcovers are available for each for an additional $5 per book).


With multiple books, t-shirts, custom dice, etc, it's nice that PEG is following the Reaper method of pledge management.  Can't afford everything in the next twenty-some days?  When the survey manager is launched later in the year, you can add on books and accessories, if you originally pledged for physical product.  Additional S&H charges may be assessed at that time.

Oh, to answer my own questions, pdfs should be available in June and physical books in October.  One less reason to attend the post-apoc Mepacon in November. 

Musings and Miniatures for the Week

I come upon a difficult conundrum.  For my usual Fall and Spring cons, Mepacon and the HMGS cons, Fall-In! and Cold Wars are scheduled on back-to-back weekends!

Fall-In!  11/4-11/6   vs  Mepacon 11/11-11/13
Cold Wars  3/17-3/19/17  vs.  Mepacon 3/24 - 3/26/17

What to do?  What to run?  I need to see what my work schedule for the Fall is like, plus Maja has requested to go to Fall-In!  Mepacon's post-apocalyptic dystopia theme might fit my enthusiasm for Savage Rifts, but I don't know when that's coming out.  And as much as I love our "guys weekend" for Cold Wars, and I have a great game project set up, the theme for Mepacon Spring 2017 may be right up my alley.

A new poll might be in the future. 

For your viewing pleasure, the Metal Magic Dunwich Detective and Reaper Bones Goblins spoils of Mepacon.

The Metal Magic are more 23mm and my Pulp Figures can stretch to 32, so the disparity is way too noticeable on the table.  They're still all primed up (by hand) and into the queue.
 
What went directly into the sci-fi holding bin were the ten packs of Warzone and one Legions of Steel I snagged off of eBaby cheap.   Even with two separate sellers and jacked up S&H, I still paid a little over a buck a figure.  I'm seeing a lot more skirmish sci-fi, so I'm keeping my options open.

 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mutumbo Detki-Muletuki, Nubian Warrior

The weekly write-ups of the Burning Trogs is taking short term hiatus, as we compile and rewrite a few future entries.  For now, enjoy the basic mediocrity of everyone's favorite Nubian, Mutumbo!

The namesake for the Journey of Mutumbo portion of the campaign, and while certainly not the best, Mutumob demonstrated he was one of the toughest and most resilient warriors in not only our Hackmaster game, but any campaign I've run in any system!

Two fun facts about Mutumbo.  #1:  I don't believe he ever formerly trained to level, so he did not earn any of the added benefits (i.e. skill increases) that my revised rules called for and #2:  He got hit at least three times by level draining undead. 

Mutumbo Detki-Muletuki, Nubian Warrior, 5th Level Fighter
Homeland: Meroe
Black hair, 5'9", 172 lbs, Right Handed. 
Birthday:  8 HepDec 1112
Birth Rank:  2  # Sibling: 2



Quirks and Flaws:  Misguided, Strange Body Odor, Near Sighted, Obnoxious, Loud Boor, Superstition:  Pixie Fairies are Lucky (make them bless you), HACKFRENZY,  Hatred towards berserkers.

Abilities:
STR:  16/77                XP: 
DEX:  10/25               Next Level:
CON:  9/56
INT:  14/55
WIS:  6/42
CHA:  9/44
COM:  15/18
HON: 32
HP:  53
AC:  2   (Chain Mail, Open Faced Helm, Cursed Tower Shield -1 (+3)

Weapon Proficiencies:
Spear (specialized), sling, knife

Endurance

Skills: Slaughter Animal 26%, Angawa Battle Cry 17%, Fire Building 24%, Juggling 16%, Jump 20%, Mapless Travel 21%, Tracking 15%, Swimming Dog Paddle 24%, Shaving Grooming, Shield Repair, Animal Handling 12%, Cricket in a Pea Pod 14%.

Languages:  Meroe Tribal (100%), Trade Khemmet (10%), Trade Prythax (15%)

Weapons:
1)  Spear +1 
2)  Sling
3)  Knife
4)  Footman's Mace

Scars:
Facial Scars

Animals
Camel, gold chain collar.
Approved by Eric Jacobson PA-1-00689-02

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mepacon Spring 2016 After Action Report

Let me just first say that it's was a loooong time since I game three days at a weekend convention, was being the important word.

Mepacon Spring 2016 (Mepacon 30 for those keeping score at home) is in the books and it was largely a fantastic success.  I almost don't mind that I missed out on Cold Wars this year.

Last year was a double bust for me going to either Mepacon.  I think November was my kid's musical, and April was something traumatic to make me cancel my Gnomish Space Marine playtest. Regardless, this year was semi-healthy relatives, a clear work schedule for my wife, and a few dollars in the bank, so I anticipated an expanded schedule:  Show up Friday for "grown-up" games and take my daughter, Maja on Saturday for kid-level family stuff.

Of course, the troglodytes of evil were working to foil the weekend.  Ted Cruz was making an appearance in Scranton Friday afternoon, right around the corner from the con.

There was no interruption in festivities.  He had a few more attendees for a speech than we had for a con, but it was a non-factor.

This is the first time I was at the con at its new location at the Scranton Hilton, and I must say, I recommend it highly.  The parking garage is a little claustrophobic, on top of not being directly connected to the hotel, but for validated parking each day, they're problems I can tolerate. 

Regardless of those nit-picks, the hotel staff was phenomenal, the space roomy, and the chairs relatively comfy. 
Battletech

 I spent the early afternoon session strolling around the games and the dealers hall.  My friend Gerry ("Beret Guy" for friends who attended Lehicon back in the day) actually had a table selling old D&D, old Metal Magic figures, and surprisingly, Skirmish Sangin books and minis.  I caught up with a few friends, filled up on Dunwich Detective minis, and then headed over to the amphitheatre for the all-you-can-eat pasta dinner.  A few had their feathers ruffled when the dinner, which had been free the last two cons, now had a $9.00 charge.  For nine bucks, I got my fill of Alfredo for the next year and will be happy to pay for it in November, if everything remains the same. 
Steampunk Cake
Friday night I was the winning GM of the "Nobody Sign Up for My Game" No-Prize, which means the two other GMs with no players jumped into my Spirit of '77 event, "Cruise Ship of the Damned".   While only two players sped the timeframe of the game up, it was tremendous fun, as Colonel Roscoe and stuntman Darryl "Big Duke" Dutchman (and his sidekick Gearbox) fought through hordes of zombified crew and passengers.   A few changes to the plot on my part, plus an impromptu proposal in the first few minutes added some more drama to the building tension.  Alas, between naval bombardment and a well-placed stash of C-4 the bartender had (?) the SS Tangerine is no more... and possibly our heroes.

Saturday, Maja and I got a late start, still getting a solid breakfast before getting to the con just in time. 

Maja's morning consisted of the Kid's Coloring Contest (she is a two-time champion, after all), followed by a flurry of kid/family games.  Everything from Dungeon Roll to Pictureueka to Don't Break the Ice and a few more.   There were a few tenuous moments, but I barely pulled out a win in Don't Break the Ice. 
Maja at the Kid's Game Corner
Afterward, we went out to the car and got everything for my Gnome Wars Treasure Hunt game.  Alas, I had solid competition for both the wargaming demographic (a solid Kings of War demo) and the kids (the kid's pirate LARP), so despite Maja wanted to play just against Daddy, I sent her across the floor to the Kid's LARP. 

I cleaned up my game, traversed the dealer hall again, and ki-bitzed with some people until checking back with Maja.   She had a fun time, as the kid's LARP was a lot of puzzles (physical and mental), crafts, and for some reason, using plastic spoons to fling Peeps into a castle. 


Plus I can play the proud Papa Card (#1) with all the compliment I got from numerous people on how polite and well-behaved she was during the LARP, especially after she got released from the LARP, couldn't find me at the minis table (I was thirty foot around the corner and she was early), and immediately went to Registration to help them find her.  A harrowing 90 seconds later and all was well.

I won't let her drive, and I'll keep her away from white vans with candy, but at a con I know I can trust her to do her thing.

In the afternoon, both an adult LARP occurred, plus a visit by the local SCA chapter added to the festivities.   We decided to grab lunch at Pizza by Pappas which was tasty, affordable, and according to Maja, had "everything a kid would want in a pizza shop".


The theme for the con was Steampunk, so there were plenty of cogs, gears, extra monocles, and corsets running around, but very few games. 

A fashionable Steampunk couple, complete with auction bidder cards and dice!
The rest of the afternoon was a walk around Downtown Scranton (I had just been here the week before for jury duty, so I had a base familiarity) reading all the statues and banners, and getting cornered into discussions on labor unions and child abuse because of it (I think I did okay). 

Back at the con we played a few more games and let Maja peruse the dealer's hall.  Despite a shopping list of "maybe" items, she was interested in Magic cards (which I put the kibosh on), a pillow from LemonLime crafts, and a Totoro "bunny" ornament from Lemonlime for Millie. 



Main gaming room, Brendan LaSalle of X-Crawl and Goodman Games fame is in the purple shirt.
As we sat to get ready for the raffle, Maja befriended the gentlemen at Brendan LaSalle's table, selling Goodman Games.  Proud Papa moment #2:  She was so friendly and polite and ask good questions that the fellow gave her a bunch of Goodman Games/Dungeon Crawl Classics freebies, including a bookmark (with character sheet printed on it) and a DCC folder that she took to school today for her classwork.   She reacted to his generosity with excitement and gratitude that knows my wife and I are raising her right.

Although the budget could not help me clear off the table I can say, BUY GOODMAN GAMES (AND BRENDAN LASALLE'S) PRODUCTS!  THEY ARE AWESOME, THEY ARE RIDICULOUSLY AFFORDABLE, AND THE GUY ON THE FRONT OF THE DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS RPG BOXED EDITION WEARS AWESOME PANTS.

I would have said that before Saturday, just not in all caps.

The Cupcake Ladies
We bombed at the raffle, but we can announce (Proud Papa Moment #3) that Maja won the Kid's Division of the miniatures painting contest with her Chupacabra.  Her prize, a fifteen dollar gift certificate for The Portal went right to the TMNT Mouser Mayhem set for Heroclix.
 
The Saturday night game's auction was a good mix of good and bad, cheap and expensive.  In the spirit of my buddy Brian, who refuses to bid over $3 on anything, but couldn't make it to the con this weekend, I grabbed four different Rifts books for $2 total.  With the Savage Rifts Kickstarter slowing coming to fruition, I'm excited for more source material.  I had also snagged up a copy of Diplomacy at the buyout price of $10 before the auction began, so I was happy with my winnings.
 
King's of War
Sunday was initially a disastrous mistake turned good.  I had accidentally scheduled by Kobolds Must Be Eaten Game for Sunday morning instead of Saturday morning, and never emailed to change it.   Then my wife told me to go on Sunday morning, while she got a pedicure, and it sounded like a fair trade-off.  Still, on Saturday, I  thought I might try to just not show up and sleep in, but I discovered my game was full.   
 
I got in early, made up some pre-gens and discovered that the my table was full of experience KAMB players... with books.  We rolled up Kobolds at the table and got three and a half non-stop hours of carnage!   Still being a general novice at the system, I had some worries that people would try to take advantage of my benolvence, until a cow landed on and killed a kobold for simply asking a question, while the party was still effectively "outside the front door" of the dungeon. 
 
Needless to say, "Kobolds Goez to Kollage" was a success, with:
 
Casualites:  four kobolds, five hippies, two campus police officers, four Vente Caramel Crunch Frappuccino with three shots of espresso each,  one co-ed (on screen),  and countless other childhood development major co-eds. 
 
Damages:  A cop car set ablaze, an exploded blue light emergency station, a quarter of the quad set ablaze, and untold damage to the childhood development department.

Plunder:  Three babies, an empty shotgun, an Italian sub, and an iPhone Six.  Who knew Siri could translate Kobold?  Is she a new Kobold Goddess???

Mepacon Review:
Registration:  A bugbear at the historical miniatures cons, my pre-reg took fifteen seconds, if that.    The on-site costs are a little steep, when compared to other cons, but when compared to another set of cons (large and small) that require event tickets, it's an affordable affair to attend.
 
Games:  The fact that organized play has splintered into three groups (Pathfinder Society, D&D Adventurers Guild and Greyhawk Reborn) would have me worried, if only the rooms weren't constantly filled.   There were plenty of D&D/5E/OSR games, enough Cthulhu games to make Lovecraft giddy, miniatures games of varying sizes, and plenty of board/card games. 

Dealers:  A year away has added just the right variety in dealers.  The addition of the gourmet cupcake vendor and LemonLime Crafts covering geeky accessories expanded the things from the days of the vendor hall constituting three vendors and a wall of overpriced board games.   I spent over my budget (food included) and could have easily tripled it
 
Swag:  Besides Maja's TMNT game, pillow, DCC stuff,  and Totoro ornament, I got the four Rifts books,  a copy of Diplomacy, ten of the Metal Magic Dunwich Detective figures, a pack of Reaper goblins, a new con t-shirt, and two older t-shirts for Maja and Millie to wear.   I could have been worse but a starving, growing girl ate away.

The next Mepacon is November 11-13, 2016, again at the Scranton Hilton.  The con's theme will be post-apocalyptic dystopia (great for kids!).  Check out www.mepacon.com in the future for more details.

The next spring Mepacon is March 24-26 (A week after Cold Wars, eek!), but I may have been bribed by the proposed theme, which is in my demographic.  More details as they come.
One Proud Papa (x a million) and one awesome little girl

Apathy of the New Releases (May '16)

Word of warning, it's a grumpier than usual month for the monthly solicitations out of Alliance Distribution's Game Trade Magazine.  Nothing too far out of the normal range of stuff, it's just that if there were no Magic sets getting released, I'm not quite sure what my "Imaginary Store" full of cool product would sell.   Thank goodness my "pretend" inventory practises allow enough stock on the shelves to weather such months, unlike a number of real-life operations.

My "Must-Have" Want List
Nothing...

My "Money-is-no-Object" Want List
Again, nuttin'.

My Imaginary Store (The Pegleg Gnome) List

Ares Games
Age of Conan Board Game .......................................................................................... $89.90
Age of Conan:  Adventures in Hyboria ........................................................................ $34.90
Wings of Glory  (May 2016 Releases)  ........................................................................ $14.90
It hasn't been mention recently, but I would want a sizable, but not dominant historical wargaming section.  A consistent web and con presence should be able to rotate stock enough.  However, Wings of Glory keeps pumping out models and I've picked up zero vibes for it on my normal channels.   I'd like this to succeed far more than X-Wing, but the conservative businessman hiding inside me has my doubts.  Not Dystopian Wars/Armies doubts, but doubts nevertheless.

Asmodee
Ra Board Game ............................................................................................................. $59.95

Catalyst Game Lab
Battletech Case White PB .............................................................................................. $12.95

Chaosium
Call of Cthulhu: Cassilda's Song .................................................................................... $16.95
Call of Cthulhu: Edge of Sundown ................................................................................ $16.95
Legacy of the Reanimator .............................................................................................. $16.95
Heroquest: Glorantha : A Complete RPG ..................................................................... $39.95
King of Sartar:  The Mystery of Argarth ...................................................................... $24.95
Mark of the Beast:  A Collection of Werewolf Stories ................................................. $15.95
It's a month of fiction (and some Glorantha mixed in).  I fully support the Chaosium and Catalyst fiction lines, I just take a step back when a half-dozen books our solicited.  Historically they sell... slowly and haphazardly.

Cryptozoic Entertainment
Adventure Time Card Wars:  Doubles Tournament Game ............................................. $35.00

Cubicle 7
The One Ring RPG:  Erebor - The Lonely Mountain ....................................................... $29.99

Days of Wonder
Small World: Pocket Encyclopedia ................................................................................... $14.99
In an active month, I would pass over this entirely, but in a month with such miscellaneous crap strewn throughout the pages of GTM, a familiar name is worth a shot. 

Dex Protection
The Dualist Deckbox (Black,Blue, Green, Pink, Purple, White) ...................................... $18.00
And here's a new item, from an unfamiliar company that stokes my interest.  A deckbox for two decks, looks sturdy, and I get my normal retailer discount (rather than the "PI - Please Inquire" listing in the consumer copy, which means a much smaller discount.



Everything Epic
Secrets of the Lost Tomb is a cooperative board game that had a very successful Kickstarter campaign, perhaps too successful.  Like many of the these style boardgames, the stretch goals and add-ons exploded everywhere, so instead of a $70-100 main game and one or two accessories/expansions, we have a very reasonable $75 main game and  11 expansions/accessories/minis sets.   Hopefully, store owners will look into the praise/critique from the Kickstarter pledges, but everything's $380 retail.  That's a big bite for a store to take that doesn't do it's research (i.e. most of them).

Evil Hat Productions
Fate RPG:  Atomic Robo- Majestic 12 ............................................................................... $20.00
Fate RPG:  Do - Fate of the Flying Temple Core Rules ..................................................... $20.00
Fate RPG:  Venture City ..................................................................................................... $20.00
Fate RPG:  Young Centurion Core Rules  .......................................................................... $20.00
Gumshoe RPG:  Bubblegumshoe Core Rules ..................................................................... $25.00
Flying Temple is family friendly, Bubblegumshoe is Investigative gaming a la Kid's school show drama, and Young Centurions is 1910 kid's pulp which could be developed from tales drawn from hardy lads and lasses.

Fantasy Flight Games
Star Wars Imperial Assault:  The Bespin Gambit Expansion ............................................. $39.95

Gale Force Nine
D&D: Curse of Strahd:  Esmerelda and Rudolph Van Richten .................................... $24.99
D&D: Curse of Strahd:  Strahd von Zarovich ............................................................... $24.99
D&D: Curse of Strahd: DM Screen .............................................................................. $14.99

Games Workshop
Plastic Glue ............................................................................................................................... $7.00
Super Glue ................................................................................................................................ $8.75
Just how much over priced glue does GW expect to move?

Space Marines and Paint Set .................................................................................................... $33.00
Stormcast Eternals and Paint Set ............................................................................................. $33.00
$33.00 for three plastic figures, a brush, and what appears to be six half-pots for the Stormcast and eight for the space marines?  Not a bad deal in the GW universe. 

Skaven Pestliens ..................................................................................................................... $85.00
Skeleton Horde ....................................................................................................................... $85.00
Still shaking my head at these "Collecting the Hobby" sets.

Deathwatch Overkill .............................................................................................................. $165.00
Lost Patrol .............................................................................................................................. $ 60.00
Warhammer 40K  Battle for Vedros Starter Set .................................................................... $ 49.99
I raise an eyebrow over a $50 starter set.  Five minutes of research just makes me angry.    This new starter set appears to be based on some click-base system, the models can be assembled without glue, and the target audience is ages eight and above.  You know the one thing I can't discover after three pages of Google searches?  How many freakin' figures you get in the box set.  Apparently, GW is looking for a younger "Games Workshop Mom" demographic that's well trained on buying Pokémon cards and Shopkins for their kids.    This new "youth" 40k has additional units available, including a Space Marine Bike... $15.00 for one bike, or an Attack Bike for $26.99.  Too incensed to go over the overpriced/just plain ugly Sigmar crap.

Goodman Games
 Dungeon Crawl Classics: Sketch Covers for #68, 69, 71, 75, 76, 78, 79................... $14.99 each
DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS: #89 CHAOS RISING ....................................... $14.99
DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS: #90 DREAD GOD OF AL-KHAZADAR ........ $14.99

Iello
King of New York:  Power Up Expansion ................................................................  $19.99

Koplow
Metal Countdown d20 (Black,Blue,Green, Red, White Number options) ............... $11.00 each
Metal Polyhedral Dice  ............................................................................................. $ 8.00 each
Metal Polyhedral Dice 7 Piece Set ........................................................................... $60.00

Mayfair Games
Agricola Revised Edition ......................................................................................... $60.00

Mongoose Publishing
Traveller RPG:  Central Supply Catalogue ............................................................. $49.99
Traveller RPG:  Marooned on Marduk ................................................................... $14.99

Paizo Publishing
Pathfinder Horror Adventures HC ......................................................................... $44.99
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Goblins Burn!  Class Deck .............................. $19.99
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Goblins Fight!  Class Deck ............................. $19.99
Pathfinder Adv Path:  Hell's Vengeance Part 6 - Hell Comes to Westcrown ........ $24.99
Pathfinder Campaign Setting:  Map Folio:  Hell's Vengeance Poster ................... $19.99
Pathfinder Flip Mat : Lost City .............................................................................  $14.99
Pathfinder Module:  Gallows of Madness ............................................................. $24.99
Pathfinder Pawns - Pathfinder Society Pawn Collection ...................................... $24.99
Pathfinder Player Companion - Legacy of Dragons ............................................. $14.99

Palladium Books
Dead Reign RPG:  Sourcebook 6 Hell Followed ................................................. $20.95
Rifts RPG:   Secrets of the Atlanteans ................................................................. $24.95

Pelgrane Press
Night's Black Agents RPG:  Edom Field Manual ................................................ $17.95

Reaper Miniatures
We finally have the solicitations for the Reaper Wild West Wizard of Oz figures I mentioned in a post a year and a half ago.   Good news, if you wanted metal versions, they're still metal, except the anticipated price of $7 apiece has expanded to a range of $7-8.50 each.  You could wait for the Bones versions....   With the other solicitations being fantasy creatures of questionable sculpt or utility averaging a hair under $10 each, stocking a full line of Reapers and selling them becomes a bit more difficult.

Troll Lord Games
Castles and Crusades RPG:  Codex of Aihrde:  The Darkenfold ......................... $ 9.99

Upper Deck
Legendary DBG:  Big Trouble in Little China ..................................................... PI
MSRP from other sites is $49.99

 You were brought upon this world to get this!
Wizards of the Coast
Magic the Gathering:  Conspiracy - Take the Crown Boosters
Not the guaranteed cash cow...
Magic the Gathering:  Eldritch Moon
But this one should be...
Magic the Gathering:  From the Vault Lore .................................................................. $34.99

Wizkids
TMNT Heroclix Gravity Feed Set 2
Pathfinder Battles:  Deadly Foes Booster Bricks
Star Trek Attack Wing:  Expansion Pack ..................................................................... $14.99
Dominion Koranak, Federation Enterprise-B, Federation Voyager

Saturday, April 23, 2016

It's Another Beautiful Day in America

No time for the painting bench this week.  Activities soaked up a good part of the week again.  Maja complained of back and hip pain after an afternoon at the park last Sunday, so my wife spent a day off at the ER.  We celebrated my birthday with gifts of clothes that I wouldn't be able to fit in in 1996, much less 2016 (People must think I'm a broad shouldered petite ballerina).  Thursday was a hockey game, and to top it all off, my wife's crown broke on the same morning parts of my glasses literally disintegrated off of my face.  Fun!

This week has brought me back to the occasional wonder that is eBay.  A handful of good sellers are on my saved searches and when "stormy normy" popped up with more than a dozen items.  Unlike most eBay auctions which start at ridiculous prices, this seller starts at the old ninety-nine cents opening bid.  Even with expensive S&H, I scored a pile of Warzone figures at about a buck apiece.  Can't get much better than that in this lead-based economy. 


 

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Half-Hearted Salute from an American

As I make the final preparations for Mepacon in Scranton, I must comment on the fact that Salute in England took place this past weekend.

For us here in the States, Historicon is the grand-daddy of wargaming conventions.  dozens upon dozens of events, tournaments that properly fit in the prescribed wazoo (and not spilling out of it), a flea market  area, and a sizable dealer's hall. 

We do have a vocal minority that likes to complain about everything HMGS and Historicon's staff do regarding the convention:  It's too far away, the dealers are scattering to the four winds, and there's too many events with felt and counters (i.e. there's fewer modeling masterpieces.) 

Some of these people have suggested emulating some of the positives of Salute.  In fact, one of the HMGS directors decided to travel to London (at his own expense) and reach out to the dealers and South London Warlords club that run  the show.

While many Salute is a great show, the European model of wargame shows is completely different than the American, and as an American, I have no burning desire to go.

First off, Historicon is a four-day "destination event"  that in it's pre-move heyday at the Lancaster Host hovered under 4,000 attendees.

Salute is seven hours long and is rumored to be attended by thousands more, but most of those people are merely there to shop the one hundred ninety (190) different vendors attended and filled most of the EXCEL Center. 

Whereas the biggest fault in Historicon's events is the fact that great game fill up quickly, Salute provides two types of games. 

Demonstration games of the English persuasion are not your traditional "Learn Munchkin" at Steve Jackson Games' booth at Gen Con.  Rather, they are beautifully constructed boards with figures of impeccable details beyond reproach, with players from the local club presenting the game.   No one with a standard admission is touching anything on the table, must less playing with it.  Perhaps it's great for club recruitment, or to support a recently release set of rules/line of minis, but if I wanted to see museum quality figures and terrain that's effectively behind glass, there are plenty of dioramas at museums I could visit. 

The Participation games are more akin to the American model.  However, since you want to get as many people to play at the table as possible, sessions are truncated, and only the basics of gameplay discussed/used, so effectively a participation game in England is a demo game here in the States.

Confused?  It will be alright, I assure you.

As a practical American, going to Salute is pure folly, unless it lines up as an off day for a holiday/business trip.  To travel across the Atlantic for seven hours of show for nearly $30US is fool-hardy.    Despite some nice discounts, anything I pick up at the show might be subject to duties (much less added luggage weight).  I'll kindly grimace at shipping rates and limit my orders.  And of those 190 vendors, there might be dozen that interest me, which is a smaller percentage when compared to HMGS cons.

This is overdone perfection for a game. Picture from Musings on Wargaming and Life
We gluttonous Americans prefer our buffet of wargaming options to play, even if it's 5mm Napoleonics on felt roads and wood block buildings.   The club option of play is much better organized in England, but for my $30, I'd like to play a few games, reminisce with old friends, make a few new ones, and come home with a respectable haul. 

Yes, some of the boards are fantastic, take a look at the reports below and you can largely discern between participation and demonstration games.
Wargames Gazette
Big Lee's Miniatures Adventures
Doctor Phalanx
Murphys Heroes- Participation Games (in Dutch)
Murphys Heroes - Demo Games (in Dutch)
Shed Wars
A Wargaming Gallimaufry
Wonderful World of Nozza
Gaming from the Cupboard

The British model of the convention is akin to the local comic book convention.   Most people are interested in perusing the vendors, and a few special guests/gimmicks/promotions draw some of that group away.   At least with comic books shows, there's covers and issue numbers to help you out.  Try finding 15mm late Macedonian scout archers and it's not as easy. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

(Risus) Spider-Bee

The latest social media I've found that can be translated into Risus. 
 
Spider-Bee
Poisonous half-arachnid  (4)
Pollen loving flying insect (4)
Stinging web-slinging monstrosity (3)
Radioactive mutant of mystery (2)
 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

(Kickstarter) 28mm Halfling Miltia Riding Roosters

TAG announces their latest "Chickstarter,"  28mm Halfling Militia Riding Roosters.

 
Posted without comment.

(Wayback Wednesday) Hackmaster in Wooly's Attic

This is a picture of our Hackmaster game in the attic of Wooly's house in South Side Easton, circa 2002.   I've used it on and off for the picture in the header (pic with Gaming with the Gnomies in it).   If we get to play Hackmaster, it may reappear.

(L-R) Wooly, Scott, Nichols, Dalcin, Hoyce, Balls, and my fat belly behind the screen.
Sorry, no Cheetos, although the Taco Bell cups might have Mountain Dew.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

(Kickstarter) Picnic Panic: The Game of Ant Warfare and Candy Pillaging

Stonegate Forge, founded by the founding owner of Ral Partha (and current co-owner of Iron Wind), announced the launch of the Kickstarter for Picnic Panic: The Game of Ant Warfare and Candy Pillaging

This wargame pits 2 to 4 players as different ant factions, fighting each other over their respective candy stashes.  In true family fun wargame fashion, the victor literally takes the spoils, be it actually candy, snacks, or in the case of wrapping up a late night gaming session, perhaps a few adult beverages.

The biggest pro of all:  the game comes with 41 one-inch metal miniatures.  Less than a dollar a figure if you pledge for the basic set with US Shipping.   Sure, some are slightly anthropomorphic, but with a number of fantasy modules covering ants acting as people (plus Judges Guild's  "Revenge of the Ant God,") there are plenty of uses for them. 



 

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #35: The Wedding of Lady Arlene

Zorin Redrock - Gnome Titan Fighter.  Veteran of the Barbarian Wars, and hero of Marakeikos due to the retaking of Frandor's Keep.
Gwendalyn Lorax  - Half Elf Druid.
Terval Sit - Half-Elf Mage
"Whitey" Smallfoot - Albino Halfling Priest of Yondalla.   Zorin's sidekick.
For those playing along at home, Coreena the pre-teen halfling torchbearer, and Ramsa, mute halfling protege of Gwen got to sit this one out.

36th of TriDec 1135, Celsior, Kingdom of Marakeikos
After a few more days, the trio of Terval, Zorin, and Whitey returned to Celsior. They received invitations to the wedding of Lady Arlene Harlan (daughter of Baron Sherlane) and Dmitri Yurovik, adventurer.

7th of QuaDec 1135, Califon, Kingdom of Marakeikos
Taking Gwen with them, the group arrived in Califon on the day of the wedding.  They dashed to the Twilight Rusty Deer Inn to quickly clean up and change before heading to the wedding.  It was a nice, low-key ceremony, given it was for the daughter of a Baron, daughter was a member of the Order of the Griffon.  More importantly for the Trogs, it had an open bar.

Zorin:  Plus I introduce the other Trogs to Baron Sherlane and then I drink and tell stories.

8th of QuaDec 1135, Califon
In Marakeikan tradition, the day after the wedding was for celebration.  A Tournament and general festival took place.   Zorin entered the footman's fight

Turvel:  The fight started and I watch Zorin stand in the middle of the field.  The person Zorin yelled "By the Hand of the Master!" and attacked him.  Terval remained invisible.  Zorin defeats all that attack him.  He is the last one standing.

Zorin:  "Holy Crap, the second to last person standing was Cecelia!!!!!!"

After all the trouble they had gotten involved with, and all the threats looming over the Kingdom, I felt it proper to give them a little celebration... and a little competitive combat always gets the juices flowing, even back twenty years of real time running this campaign.  

Cecelia Darkspruce, half-elf sorority girl-styled Priestess of Sif had been last seen somewhere in the proximity of the Slaver City of Roark.  The other party members had been amazed at the story of Gwen's escape, but doubted the good fortune of having their second MIA friend return in one piece.  Her story commands its own post....

Next #36: Cecelia Darkspruce, Free-Woman

Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Origins Awards Nominees Announced!

Another year, another Origins Awards.  This year with added apathy! 
The Origins Awards has taken a beating over recent years versus newer awards, like the Ennies.  However, I have remained a staunch supporter of the Origins for it's multiple categories and a dedication to miniatures and wargaming. 
That all got chucked out the window this year, as committee threw out all sub-categories, and two categories altogether.  Best Miniatures Rules is all we've got now. 
Best Board Game
  • Champions of Midgard 
  • La Granja - Stronghold Games
  • New York 1901 – Blue Orange Games
  • Orleans - Tasty Minstrel Games
  • Star Wars: Imperial Assault - Fantasy Flight Games
No horses in the race for me.  Barely heard of the first four, and Star Wars is the 900-lb gorilla in the room to begin with. 
Best Card Games (includes dice and deck-building games)
  • 7 Wonders Duel – Repos Productions (Asmodee NA
  • The Grizzled  - Cool Mini or Not
  • Medieval Academy – IELLO
  • Welcome to the Dungeon  - IELLO
No horses in this one either.  Three I have no clue on, and I just learned about the concepts in The Grizzled this weekend.  Cool, but not good enough to warrant a vote.
Best Collectible Game (all games with a collectible component)
  • DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light
  • Force of Will - Force of Will, LLC
  • Yugi’s Legendary Decks - Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc
Three very competitive groups, but nothing I'm interested in. 
Best Role-playing Game
  • Cthulhu Britannica London Boxed Set - Cubicle 7
  • Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook - Pelgrane Press
  • Fall of Magic - Heart of the Deernicorn
  • Lone Wolf Adventure Game - Cubicle 7
  • Star Wars: Force and Destiny - Fantasy Flight Games
Despite constant marketing on Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, Cthulhu Britannica is simply gorgeous.
Best Family Game
  • Codenames - Czech Games Edition
  • Co-Mix - Ares Games
  • Dohdles! - Thames & Kosmos
  • Fuse - Renegade Game Studios
  • Me Want Cookies – IELLO
I don't remember solicitations for any of these games, and if I find them, they're proably because of sub-par graphic design. 
Best Miniatures Game
  • Frostgrave - Osprey Publishing
  • Guild Ball – Steamforge,
  • Star Wars Armada - Fantasy Flight Games
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar - Games Workshop
  • Wrath of Kings  - Cool Mini or Not
Sigmar may sadly get the nod, but Frostgrave does what others want to do, yet in a concise and affordable manner.
Best Game Accessory
  • Blowing Up the Movies - Atlas Games
  • Castle Panic: The Dark Titan -Fireside Games
  • Feng Shui 2 GM Screen: A Fistful of Fight Scenes - Atlas Games, Morgan Ellis,T.S. Luikart,
  • Pathfinder Battles: Dungeons Deep – WizKids,
  • Terrain Tiles - Lost Battalion Games

Sunday, April 17, 2016

(HX) Avengers of Justice #1 The Big Kahuna Heist

Following my kids' request for a superhero game and a successful test run of Heroclix, it was time for an adventure "Ripped from the headlines..."

Location:  The Big Kahuna Burger in Londontown (the fictional setting for our adventures).

The Big Kahuna Burger truck driver arrived early Saturday morning with another delivery of tasty burgers.  Too early for the manager to be there to unload the truck, so the driver unhitched the trailer and found a place to sleep.

With no one else around, some nefarious folks descended upon the trailer, looking to score some Hawaiian goodness.
This ain't no Royale with Cheese
Once the person calling described the would be burglars, 911 forwarded the call to the League of Girls Who Kick Butt (true name TBD).  At such a late hour, only two heroes were still up: Mockingbird and Wasp.

None of the theives noticed them get into location atop the trailer, where Wasp's ranged attack took out the supposed leader.   They caused a commotion in a building across the parking lot, and the others sent the Troll Bodyguard to check it out.  

*ZZZOOOOOTTTT!*
Mockingbird jumped down to fight the bad guys 3-on-1, while Wasp checked some actual commotion coming from the building the Troll was investigating.  Soon, the unconscious body of the Troll came flying through a wall, and a strange green man emerged.
"Do they have Hawaiian Pizza?"
Wasp flew over to introduce herself to Donatello the turtle, all the while, Mockingbird was slowly getting overwhelmed by the bad guys.  

The pair dashed back over to the truck, and in a manner of a few seconds, justice was served, and new friends were made. 

As our heroes recovered from the fight, a strange figure in purple could be seen spying from atop the trailer.  When they realized they had been spotted, they dashed off into the night.  
Something was a "Foot"!
For our first storytelling superhero game, everything went off with only one hitch:  Millie didn't want to play.  So while Millie did some arts and crafts, Maja and I ran through foiling the burger heist.  

With the arrival of TMNT Heroclix, and my pre-ordered Fast Forces set not arriving at the FLGS, I snagged up four of the singles.  Once the fight started, Wasp, Mockingbird, and the first bad guy each rolled a d6 before they did anything.  On a six, I grabbed a pack out of my work bag and let Maja open it.  Donatello and the Foot Soldier got opened before the fight was over.


 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

(Review) Tactical Advantage - Edwardsville, Pennsylvania

I made mention before Christmas of a new game store opening up across the river from where I work.  Five months and four visits since and I have enough to review it.

Location:  Tactical Advantage is located in the Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville, PA.  While the front of the strip mall facing Wyoming Avenue/US 11 is cramped and crazy, the long section of the shopping center running parallel with the side street is less congested and with better parking.   There are plenty of places to eat nearby (as gamers are wont to do).  Only issue might be for out of the area gamers driving in, as the entirety of the Wyoming Valley has a Byzantine system of highway exits.  Get on US 11, head towards Kingston/Edwardsville and you should make it.

The shop itself is very, very clean, with multiple tables available.  Except for one visit that was quite early, there were plenty of players were already in the midst of multiple games. 


Stock:  This has been my main issue, and has forced me to make multiple trips.  When I originally walked through the doors in December, the store was well in it's admitted infancy, and stock is always a dangerous proposition, depending on clientele and budgets.  But in my three further trips through  the beginning of April, I saw a little improvement.

Tactical Advantage suffers from the exact opposite issue that Pastimes had.  Whereas Pastimes had a load of inventory that has not moved in a long time, Tactical Advantage has no inventory to play with.  Recently, I saw a Facebook picture from them that essentially said "We got ourselves a whole fleet of X-Wing.  Nab them now before they FLY off the shelves," followed by similar pictures of Magic and GW orders.

Problem was, by the time I swung by on Tuesday, the product was gone, and there was little to entice a walk-in customer until Friday afternoon.

If you want basic and recent Games Workshop, X-Wing, and D&D 5th Edition, then they should have it.    Unless, of course, it's Tuesday.  If you get in early enough on a Monday or Tuesday, it looks pretty solid that a special order would arrive by the end of the week

The back of the store, where the sales floor is located, is half empty, with the back wall completely bare.

RPGs:   D&D Fifth Edition.  A few games of that (and 4th) are offered throughout the week.

Minis:  Games Workshop, Star Wars X-Wing, and Blood Bowl have very active communities and the first two have stock to support them.  The GW paint rack just arrived fully stocked.

Board Games:  The board game wall is stocked with some standards, but not many.  There was an interesting Wild West board game I noticed once, but for $90+, I'd rather see more copies of games in the Catan/Ticket to Ride category. 

Open Gaming:  This is Tactical Advantages greatest strength.  Magic tourneys in multiple formats, board game nights, different D&D 5th Edition campaigns, and a Blood Bowl League. All appear to be friendly and well attended.

Staff:  Another point of contention.  While the owner seemed genuinely friendly to see me, my choice of games didn't correspond with his ordering preferences, so outside of offering a quick turnaround time on special orders, my choices for role-playing and miniatures were met a dose of condescending condemnation that may or may not have been in a joking manner.  Hopefully he's nicer to the Games Workshop moms.  

The second employee I encountered was the quintessential neckbeard gamer.  I was always offered assistance, and I declined future conversation, but as an ambassador to the store, I have a few worries as a gamer, much less a mundane parent looking for something cool for my kid.

So, after four trips, what do I currently rate Tactical Advantage on the Gaming with the Gnomies, 5-Gnome scale?

Sadly One and a half gnomes. 


If you simply want a place to play the games mentioned above on the weekends and pick up some new product, please, by all means go and have a good time. You will enjoy yourself.   In fact, it's the focus of their brand new TV ad.  Unfortunately, with my years of scouring the wilderness for game shops, I've walked into a number of similar places, only to walk out each in two or three minutes. 

None of these shops are still in existence today.   A few core players graduated, moved, got married, and there's zero cushion to help pay the bills while the next group is cultivated.

I'm not talking about stocking the shelves with more product than Amazon offers.  I'm simply suggesting enough inventory to encourage browsing and sales.  Trust me, I've done inventory on a half-million dollars of inventory (not including Magic singles), the store doesn't need that much stock, but it certainly needs more.

Just like most stores I enter, I'm never part of the demographic, but I hope my concerns are proven wrong with future visits.

Tactical Advantage is located at 4 Gateway Shopping Center, Kingston (Edwardsville), PA.  Check them out on Facebook.