Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh Hello. Are You Still There?

Alright, alright.  Don't beat me about the head and face.  I've been absent for quite a while.

In the time between we last spoke and now I've played several card/board games, and a few table-tops games.  And there are a few updates on computer games as well.

Lets start with the more "normal" games.  You know, games that "normal" people are more apt to play. 

There was this card game I played called Seven Dragons.  At least I think it was called Seven Dragons.  It's a game for 2-5 players (I think).  Each player has a dragon assigned to him/her that is a particular color.  The object of the game is to take the cards dealt to you and play a color matching game to get a total of seven matchings of your dragon's color - blue, gold, red, green, and black.  And that is pretty much the game.  There are cards that are dealt out to screw with play of game, by changing the color of your goal, making you switch hands with another player, etc.  Very fun, easy game to play.

Then there is 7 Wonders.  This is a fantastic game, whose praises cannot be sung enough.  My friends, Fred(s), maintain that this is a "gateway" game - meaning that despite it's apparent complexity, the game play is quick enough, easy enough, and fun enough to prompt a "noob board gamer" (you know those kind - the ones that when asked if they want to play a game bust out some crap like Sorry or Life) to becoming a more sophisticated gamer.  They might even try their had at Settlers of Catan or Dominion after playing 7 Wonders a time or two.  As for the game itself, you are building a civilization in one of the ancient wonders of the world.  And there are several paths to glory in this game: economic, militaristic, governmental/artistic, science.  Even your military losses can score victory points for you in this game depending on how/what you play.  Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic.

Also, we played a more beer n' pretzels game called Crappy Birthday.  In this game, you are dealt a hand of cards from the "Gift Deck" that you then spend once per round (unless you are the "Birthday Boy/Girl") by handing off the crappiest gift you can think of for the "Birthday Boy/Girl".  It's kinda fun except that in the group of friends I played this with most of the gifts weren't really that crappy.  They should have had things like "Become a Tour Guide for a Water Treatment Plant for a Month" or some such.  That's pretty crappy.  Oh yeah I went there!  What did you expect?


Alright, now on to some nitty gritty.  I finally got my feet wet with Shadowrun.  This is one hell of a system/world to play in.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about...pause in reading this for a moment after grabbing a No.2 pencil.  Place it between the middle knuckles of your middle and ring fingers of one of your hands - either one, it make no difference.  Now, with your free hand, pinch your fingers together.  That intense pain you've just experienced is because you have no idea what Shadowrun is.  Now go Google it and come back to me.  It's like playing in Blade Runner as...anything...  It's dark, and gritty, and very futuristic noir.  I ran a large group of folks on a one shot of this and good God, it makes me want to play/run another scenario again really really soon.

Also, I am about to start running my game again - pick your jaw up off the floor - and we're running Dark Sun baby! don't know what Dark Sun is?  Alright, go get a No.2 get the picture.  However, we're going to be running 4E as opposed to the old 2E version.  Mostly because I have no concrete idea on how to play 2E.  I have the theory down, but practical application always shows where book knowledge falls short.  No Wizards, no Sorcerers, no Clerics, no Paladins, no Invokers.  Lots of psionic classes.  Lots of wood and bone and leather weapons/armor.  Little to no metal.  Any magic users in the game either despoil the land around them by leeching vitality out of the world and people around him, or they take a little bit of vitality from everything and cast underpowered magics while leaving behind the world to power future magics.  It's a brutal, loveless world - as short on water as it is short on mercy.

You are not prepared.


And now we come to our final section for the catch up post.  Computer games.  For a while, I had stopped playing World of Tanks altogether in lieu of playing Lord of the Rings Online.  As far as Free to Play (or F2P) MMOs go, this is one of the better ones.  As you play you are able to complete achievements that award you with the in game currency (Turbine Points) needed to buy things from the online store; meaning you don't necessarily need to use real money to purchase things from the online store, but if you want to you can.  It's certainly faster than grinding out achievements for Turbine Points.  You can even subscribe to the game as it was when it initially launched, and Turbine will gift you with several different rewards for subscribing.  But it's nothing that you wouldn't be able to get over time as a free player.

However the endless grind was getting to me, and I felt I was getting nowhere fast.  So I went back to WoT.  But, I was recently sent an email from the excellent folks at Funcom - the group that brought us the Age of Conan MMORPG (as MMOs go, I felt it lacked (re)playability but it was visually stunning.  Now I admit I only played the game for a few months and I admit that my issues with the game were a direct result of Funcom's decision to make radical changes to the "standard" user interface - WASD, 1234, etc as far as functionality went) are releasing a new MMO called The Secret World.  This just looks amazing - the graphics look stunning, the play looks great, and the storyline is fantastic.  It breaks down like this: layered atop our world is another; a world full of peril, old gods awakening, true conspiracies, monsters, magic, things that go bump in the night, etc.  And there are three factions that stand between the normals and the monsters - the Dragon, who are based primarily in Asia and focus primarily on using chaos and magic to fight back the tide; the Templars, based in Europe and they focus on exerting order and justice against the darkness; and the Illuminati, based in North America they use whatever means are necessary to keep the darkness at bay, be it through main strength or through blackmail.

Just based on the several gameplay movies on the website, I can say that the game has a definite "Lovecraftian" feel to it.  Which I love.  I cannot wait to find out if I'll be in the beta.  If so, I won't be making any posts about it until it reaches full release.  Kinda standard there I think.  The only other beta test I was involved in was for Tabula Rasa and that game just fizzled because no one cared enough by the time the beta rolled around.  /shrug

Random postings to follow.

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