Kickstarter Curiosities: Saga World Builder: Modular tiles for tabletop and D&D games

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

Greetings and Salutations , some of you may remember my previous post on Kickstarter Curiosities and other various Dungeon Master tools such as speciality dice and dice towers, today I'm going to focusing on project that has been done many times before ranging from the simple to the grandiose the dungeon tile.

The Saga World Builder: Modular tiles definitely settle on the simpler side of the equation but their sturdiness, versatility, low space requirements and ease of used definitely makes them worth a look.

Now on a personal note I think the tiles look great with definite classical dungeon map appearance, with significant enough variety and variation that a traditional dungeon crawl style adventures or even a hack and slash board game like Hero Quest could be played repeatedly without much design overlap.

Been able to simply drawn doors on saves time.

The focus on durability and been able to use board markers on the tiles is a testament to their quality and expands their use even further as I am no fan of the adhesive film items, having used such things in the past I found they had a tendency to be fiddly to use and keep clean.  

This might be a good inventory system for a few homebrew systems I've wanted to try.

The pricing is fair for a niche product though I do regret missing the early bird pack even the basic pledge offers 100 map tiles (6”x6" and 3"x3” erasable interlocking tiles), 160 objects (1”x1” till 3"x3” size printed on adhesion film) and 2 inventory boards (with 60 1”x1” slots).  

Having already met their €5,000 goal with a staggering €99,247 pledged there is no worry that it won't succeed and the fact ALL pledges from the basic set upwards will receive stretch goal bonuses is even better. I for one am very much hoping we can can get the larger village tiles.

So if this seems like a worthy addition to your gaming table I'd hurry as there are only 15 days left (at time of this posting) and the Kickstarter page can be reached by clicking the link below:

Saga World Builder: Modular tiles


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MCM London Comic Con 2017: Part 2

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , ,

While I have already mentioned some of the games I came across at MCM London Comic Con 2017 there are quite a few more I simply can't discuss in any real detail, there was a distinct lack of advertising material this year with few flyers or leaflets and many others were on handhelds with mixed advertising around them so there wasn't much to take a photo of.

So here is a quick run down of what else caught my eye:

Cooking Mama Sweet Shop, Harvest Moon Lil’ Farmers and Drive Girls by Rising Star Games

With Cooking Mama on the 3DS it seemed business as usual with the new game focusing on sweets and deserts though I was unimpressed by limited choice 60 different recipes to create though its boast 160 different mini-games did catch my eye (though I personally hate any mini game that requires blowing into the microphone).

Harvest Moon Lil’ Farmers on the other hand was quite unexpected, going in blind I quickly discovered that the game was a collection of stripped down and bluntly dull mini games aimed at young children presumably toddlers given the simplicity.

Finally the strangest game released for the PS Vita by Rising Star Games Drive Girls, an action and driving hack ‘n’ slash hybrid uou can play as one of five different Drive Girls and transform from superheroine to supercar and back again, as you smash through wave after wave of mechanised Bug enemies in both arena and race course based combat.
Featuring a single player campaign it also boasts local and online multiplayer for up to four players, players can boost the Drive Girls’ stats in the garage by tuning and customizing their ride with new parts and decals using the currency earned after every mission. The tighter your tuning, the more protected the Drive Girls are against losing their armoured clothing in combat though if this feature remains in the Europe release I will be most surprised.

Farpoint VR by Impulse Gear

Alas I was unable to play this due to my unfortunate motion sickness that I get whenever I play VR games but the display was rather impressive (though I refused to take photos of those playing as I was unable to obtain permission from them beforehand) and it looked like an excellent first person shooter from what I observed. The controllers have a rather cheap plastic look to them but I can't deny they seem functional.


Star Trek Bridge Crew by Ubisoft
The second major VR game been advertised I was significantly less impressed by its fiddly looking controls and game making features (thus this may have simply been a result poor set up by those running the display.) The gameplay certainly seems to revolve around playing with friends and learning the various orders in which the ships systems need to be implemented, as the trailer was rather uninformative I've placed a link to Ubisoft's Lets Play below:

As you can see this is an example of the game play in its best conditions but I certainly think that much of the charm would be lost playing with strangers, for anyone looking for a non VR alternative to this then I recommend Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator.

ARMS By Nintendo
ARMS is a fantasy boxing game which is seen as many as a spiritual successor to Wii Sports Boxing due to similarities in controls and playstyles. In ARMS the left and right Switch JoyCons are your boxers left and right arms respectively, this control method can be affect your play style as weapons on each arm can be differently equipped. For example a Boomerang on your right arm and glove on the left arm.

Unlike earlier available demo's there are now 5 characters to select from and after a small tutorial you are put into battle with a choice of 3 weapons per arm.
Punching like Wii Sports Boxing is done by moving one’s hands in a similar fashion, with the position of fists contributing towards techniques, such as movement, blocking, and even the direction of blows like curving your punches. During your fight you can build up a meter which enables you to use “Flurry Attack” by pressing ZL and ZR.

The trailer while amusing is rather uninformative of play so the link below is the 2017 E3 presentation on ARMs:

Splatoon 2 By Nintendo

Admittedly the first I had heard of its release, the sequel to the popular Splatoon was on demonstration at MCM Expo and was set up to have up to 8 players per single match.
Chatting with a few others who took a moment to try the game, Splatoon 2 feels more like an expansion than a sequel to the Wii U original as the graphics are only slightly touched up (though the fluid effects are impressive as ever) though it also boasts some new weapons and some new arenas.
Now if it included local coop or V.S. then I may consider it an improvement on the original.

Mao Mao Castle by AsobiTech

Those older gamers amongst us may remember the Space Harrier series of games which for a time in 1985 dominate the arcade and home consoles, Mao Mao Castle harkens back taking heavy inspiration from the games design whilst modernising it and making it non violent.

Trying my own hand at the game I attempted to match some of the high scores in order to win a copy of the game, Asobitech had the LEAP motion controller on show to play the game, which you hold your hand and move it over the sensor to move the cat and make a fist in order to use the dash features. Unfortunately I was both too tired and completely clumsy with this method of motion control to get anywhere near the top scores but it certainly let me appreciate the games mechanics. 

Winner of the Castle Game Jam 2016 Mao Mao Castle is expecting release on Android and iOS and the demo is available on their website.

Agents Of Mayhem By Volition

Agents of Mayhem is a spin-off of the Saints Row series, taking place after the "recreate Earth" ending of the Saints Row IV expansion, Gat out of Hell and frankly as a Saints Row Fan I found myself eventually despising it shortly after playing through the two mission demo at MCM London.

I won't go into too much detail here as I have enough to make an article and a half of criticism but ultimately I found myself bored senseless while playing as did my friend who actually left halfway through their play through unable to stick it out until the end. The combat was over the top visually flashy but mechanically poor to control, confusing and tedious compared to the Saints Row games but it wasn't until making several of the characters PREORDER DLC BY SUPPLIER it finally earned my utter disgust and hatred.   

Finally below are some of my favourite cosplays of this year:

Optimus Prime:

Shovel Knight:

Monster Hunter:

Legend Of Zelda: Windwaker:

And finally anyone there may have seen myself and my friend from Buzy Bobbins as the Sorceress and Rannie from Dragons Crown.

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MCM London Comic Con 2017: Part 1

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , ,

Greetings and salutations once I again I return from MCM London with mixed but mostly positive results, for you long time readers you may remember that last year was my first time attending.

For those of you unaware of MCM, the MCM London Comic Con is a multi-genre fan convention held in the London Borough of Newham twice yearly, usually on the last weekend in May and October. Interests range from Anime to video Games, tabletop roleplay games to cinema it really is a varied event with talk panels, video game previews, various celebrations of eastern culture and more cosplayers than you can shake a stick at.

 A quieter moment of  MCM
Let me say now that I had intended to post this a little earlier in the month but upon my return home from the comic con left me wiped out and the growing stress on the election was a distraction to say the least.

Arriving at London unable to secure our previous hotel our group was staying at a shared apartment which in all honest turned out to be not only cheaper but also far nicer and closer to ExCeL London.
Now it must be stated that after the Manchester Bombing things were a little more tense on arrival this year with additional security everywhere but to their credit this did little to interrupt travel through the London.

Travelling to the ExCel via DLR on the Friday did come with its own set of problems with works under way at the Custom House stop, thankfully the organisers had foreseen this and arranged staff and directions at the following stop Prince Regent. While this was highly effective there was some confusion in staff instructions regarding allowing visitors to "Swipe Out" at the station causing issues with travel payments resulting in some overcharging costs for many people initially myself included.

This was thankfully rectified by some very kind and helpful people at Transport For London who had a brilliant support number and we highlighted the issue on the MCM facebook page with advice for others in the same predicament.

 The bag checking queue...

The security staff inside the ExCel were organised extremely well, courteous and generally well humoured to those in costume, even with hundreds of people streaming in the queues were kept short and were no more than 15 minutes. Later we discovered that initially there was intended backpack ban but with the hot weather the health risk of people not carrying bottled water and the general inconvenience to the public it was decided against. 

and the rest of it on the quiet Friday start.

Now to avoid simply reiterating my post from last year I am going to make a few comparisons to my previous experience:

The Map
Just to highlight what I said last year: 
I found the map near useless apart from from a general gist of the layout, just look below to see what I mean:

Front with map
 Back with panels and events
Now the astute amongst you may already notice something important missing from this map, that's right there is no key referring to the numbers listed on the stalls apart from the big name logos. In addition there is no reference to the ExCeL London own hall numbers or the entrance area so it is extremely easy to get turned around and disorientated due to the similarity of the stalls and lack of directions posted about.

There is a key but its inside the 140 page advert and article event magazine which also has a copy of the map located between pages 62 and 65, after another advert the key is listed BY ALPHABETICAL ORDER OF THE STALLS which is bloody useless unless you already know what stall your wanting to find beforehand. I'm looking at the damn key to find out what 471 is not the other way round. The panel event program is also a nightmare to find and read through in the magazine with information scattered between articles so at least the map was an improvement in this regard.
 In short just as bloody useless this year with all the same problems.


Thankfully far more variety this year, only a single major stall focused in Pop Figures much to my relief and while many of the stalls of the previous year returned there was far more variation between their stock. A few stalls did earn my ire however with blatant absurd pricing and lets just say if I was selling my PS1 game collection for the amounts they were charging  I would be a few thousands pounds better off.

 Pokemon plush were everywhere this year

CEX also didn't make a reappearance this year which was for the better, last year they had annoyed me with their loud music blaring out over the hall drowning out the various talks and panels and while GAME was there they didn't take up nearly as much space this year. Unfortunately also missing were table top roleplay stands as not a single one was available this year, but in their place the Lincoln Steam Punk Society had turned up much to my surprise and were advertising The Asylum Steampunk Festival later this year.   

All in all a major improvement from the year before especially since more of the hall was available this year there was far more space between the stalls so the horrible overcrowding of last year wasn't an issue at all much to my delight.

 Just a small amount of the manga on offer

I also ran into some old acquaintance from the Sheffield Space Centre, this was my main source of anime and manga growing up 15 years ago and it was great to see them still going strong today as they always stocked a large variety of comics, manga, anime, even figures, model kits and table top roleplaying games. It was great to see them with a stall at MCM London this year and I discovered yet another niche manga series through them Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter.
I highly recommend popping to their store if in Sheffield or checking out their website.

Video Games:

This year there were no major video game talk panels though a smaller stage had been set up by Rice Digital covering a handful of games, when generally this layout worked well the sound team really dropped the ball on the Saturday and a lot of the commentators were inaudible.

It would of also been easier to hear if the esports commentator just behind the panel had shut up for 5 minutes.
With this said there were two games there were two games covered that stood out to me:

Akiba's Beat:
Akiba's Beat is an action role-playing video game for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 video game consoles, a spiritual successor to Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed and the third game in the Akiba series its focus is to highlight the music culture of Akiba during its story.
In all honesty after the highly quirky arcade action and self acknowledging parody humour of the second game Akiba's Beat just came across as dull, slow paced and honestly rather boring in it mechanics, with very little originality that the series had previously been know for.
It seems that many other reviews agree with this observation.

      Advised Strong Language.

Project Rap Rabbit

Project Rap Rabbit is a global collaboration between Japanese developers NanaOn-Sha (PaRappa The Rapper, Vib-Ribbon) and iNiS Corporation (Gitaroo Man, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan), and UK-based publisher PQube Ltd.

Having developed some of the most revered music games of all time, they're committed to creating the greatest rhythm-action videogame in history with a new rapping adventure than infuses the best ideas from their past with innovative mechanics that  they hope will go on to shape the genre's future forevermore.

However not everything is going as planned as the Kickstarter for the project is woefully underfunded even with 2,549 backers only £129,806 of £855,000 goal has been reached and with only 10 days to go they have finally releasing a gameplay video of Rap Rabbit which is too little too late.

As one backer states:
Here's how this will go.
There will be this big unveiling of the gameplay video tomorrow. People from all over show up on this KS page as a result. They'll immediately notice that, after 3 weeks, the game is not even 20% funded, and that there's only a week and a half left to raise the remaining 80%. Maybe they'll hit that Remind Me button, but at the end of the day, they aren't gonna pledge.
Building up the Thunderclap, and hyping up the unveiling of the video, are both things that should have begun weeks before the campaign launched. Matsuura-san, Yano-san: PLEASE relaunch this campaign. Suspend it early so whatever resources you allocated to this one can be reallocated to the next one. But unless you have a massive E3 presence planned, there is no way this game is being funded with this particular campaign.

As a backer myself I totally agree with this prediction, there has been a complete failure to market the game to the community or the gaming media, I MYSELF have made seeming the only post on Reddit about the project (at the time of my posting) and I can help but feel that somewhere along the line the PR just flopped.

Just behind the Digital Rice Panel

Other than Digital Rice the Esports community really were making a hit with Tekken 7 with a massive set-up and tournament over the weekend and Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 was making its own impact on its admittedly much smaller collection of consoles. The halls also boasted various arcade machine set ups with a one company selling the cabinets it was displaying, though I think the real moment that stole it was the Gandalf V.s. Gimli on the dance machines.

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Concepts: Players as Pawns: Example Of Play

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

In my own personal experiences I have found that after the initial wariness my party constantly trust NPCs that have proven themselves to be useful and often begin to take everything they say at face value until proven otherwise. Providing an organisation can subtly influence a person in contact with the players this makes it easy to guide the players as pawns.

It is important however that opportunities to see through the deception should be present especially if the player characters will be disadvantaged by the manipulations, this doesn't have to rushed however especially if a large premise of the campaign revolves around the party becoming more and more aware of the situation as evidence slowly builds up.

This can be a difficult balance to achieve as too many clues will make it too obvious and too few will leave the players feeling rail-roaded into choices, but if done well can lead to amazing stories and feelings of great satisfaction (and often betrayal) once the players realise their predicament.   
Below is an example scenario of how a campaign with a 50's Noir theme would develop with players as pawns.

The characters have recently beaten down/arrested or otherwise removed a locally feared thug, shortly after they receive a small message from a local bar owner thanking them for their help and offering them drinks on the house that evening. The bar itself is in fact a safehouse and a cover for a small local brothel under the control of the criminal organisation that wishes to influence the party, they are also responsible for the invitation.
When the party arrives they are indeed treated to free drinks and are the heroes of the hour, a few of the waitresses or local girls flirt with them, the bartender chats happily with them thanking them for removing the thug and they have a great time with the promise of half price drinks whenever they are in and perhaps some favours. 
The party begins seeing this as their potential hangout and begin frequenting it more often though only the most astute characters should realise something is a little off about the place at this time I.E: The locals girls with different men each time, a general nervousness around some regulars, the girls vanishing into the backrooms on occasion.

At this point the bartender begins asking them questions along the lines of "If they had heard about those shady deals over in.." in a manner that he is under the assumption the party as local vigilantes already know and intend to do something.
Of course this is all a ploy to subtlety direct the characters towards a rival mob's shipments of drugs and weapons, for the criminal gang at this point everything is a win/win either their rivals suffer a set back or a possible future problem is killed off.

This drip feed of information continues with stories of "My brothers kid in the force says.." and "I've heard from one of the delivery lads.." each with just enough information or a name to have the party start investigating until the group trusts their bartender friend perhaps even coming to rely on him for information more so than other sources even in unrelated cases.

At this stage all these tips have been aimed at obviously illegal operation's that have had no connection to the Criminal Gang but the removal of which would help them stabilise their position in their territory and they can claim they had no hand in the attacks as they were done by a unaffiliated party thus preventing retribution attacks. However a minor complication/opportunity has arisen for the Criminal Gang, one of the corrupt police officers that they pay off so their businesses are ignored is demanding a larger cut. Not wanting to continue paying the corrupt officer nor obviously remove him the Criminal Gang begins a scheme to use the characters group as more direct pawns.

Informing the corrupt officer to collect his pay off from the players frequented bar with the code word "This months insurance" the players observing the transaction. If the party tries to intervene they are rebuffed and threatened by the arrogant and aggressive officer and the bartender pleads with them to not intervene. Once the corrupt officer leaves the Bartender privately breaks down and confides in the players informing them that he caught several of his waitresses prostituting themselves to customers for extra money but rather than throwing them out onto the street where they would continue he allowed them to use the backrooms so they would be safe and not risk been murdered however the police officer found out and has been blackmailing him since keeping all the records in a personal ledger.

The story is a complete lie but the group now face a dilemma, they could report the officer for corruption but their friend would be jailed for allowing prostitution on the premises so now they are increasing forced into the morally grey.

At this point the party may start planning ways to remove the officer whether it would be having him killed, threaten or even framing him for another crime but the Bartender informs them that in order to prevent himself been arrested in the investigation they would have to retrieve or destroy the ledger also. To add weight to this the Criminal Gang after ensuring any illegal goods are relocated elsewhere give an anonymous tipoff which results in a brutal police raid on the Bar a few days later. The players either getting caught up in the raid or seeing its after effects are further enraged and more seeds of distrust regarding the police are sown. Especially as they now believe this raid was a result of the threat made by the corrupted police officer.       
Where the campaign goes from here (as in discovering they have been tricked or been drawn deeper into the criminal world) heavily depends on the party and how they use the ledger, so I'll end my example here for now but I hope it helped to see how this theory works in practice.

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