Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Paint Your Wagon (or Tank or Boat)

For hobby gamers paint is a tool of the trade. The kind of paint you choose is usually based on personal preference, often founded in the first paint range you are exposed to. Over time you may discover that you like different ranges for different reasons. I thought I’d share my quick thoughts on the major paint brands often used by miniature war gamers.

I use all three major brands regularly: Games workshop (GW), Privateer Press Paints (P3), and Vallejo. For example my Dystopian Wars Blazing Suns frigates feature Vallejo paint for the green hull, GW paints for the brass bits, and P3 for the wooden decking, windows, and logo.

Here's what I’ve found:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dial D for Dystopian

Note the little tabs on the fighter bases
Dystopian Wars is the new hotness from Spartan Games and it has taken our local gaming group by storm.  Even our resident historical gaming group has been sucked in.  In fact, we like the game so much we dedicated a huge chunk of the D6G episode 70 to discussing this unique miniature war game.

However, there is a fiddly bit to the game.  You must track the fuel for each tiny aircraft token in the game, and most players will have at least 10, probably 16 of these little resin flight bases winging around the board.  While the book recommends using micro dice, is was inspired to try and engineer a more aesthetically pleasing and less fiddly solution.  Although it is a little time consuming, with the right tools it's really not that hard.

Want to make your own?   Here's how...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Games for 10 to 11 Year Olds

One of the most common questions I get asked by D6G listeners is “what games would you recommend for kids age X?”   We get it so often that we produced an episode featuring 'Games of All Ages,’ but we were thinking mostly of younger kids, perhaps 5-8 year olds.

Recently I received an e-mail from a primary school teacher (Hi Tom!) who wants to start an after school game club for children ages 10-11.  What a great way to introduce kids to board games and expose them to what is available beyond  Monopoly and Clue!

As I crafted my response to Tom I realized that others share the same question, either because they too are considering starting a group or they simply are looking for good gift/game ideas for the children in their lives.  So why not post a list on my blog and share it with others?

I tried to come up with a list which has a good variety of themes, styles, and mechanics.   I really can’t imagine a 10 year old girl or boy not enjoying at least one of the games on this list.  And since school is involved I tried to sneak in some educational value where possible.

Of course all games teach the basics of following instructions, human interaction, and sportsmanship, so I didn’t worry about education too much.

So here’s the list. It’s not comprehensive by any means, just the games that came to me as I thought about it.  And although the idea is games that would appeal to 10-11 year olds I think these would make great ‘gateway games’ for any age….

[In no particular order]

Friday, November 19, 2010

Military Abstraction In Civilization

Civilization Unit Cards
So I picked up the new Civilization board game from FFG this week.  Popped it open, smelled the new box smell, tweeted a bunch of pictures, and organized its contents in preparation for my first play this weekend.

Then I dove into the rule book.  I like what I see so far, but I've discovered a layer of military abstraction that people may or may not like. I think it's very interesting, but it will be hard to judge until actually played.

There are two elements to your military power: Armies and Units.

Armies are the little plastic flag pieces which move around the board.  These represent where you can project military might.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ode to the Graphic Designer

Ode to the Graphic Designer
by Russ Wakelin

When making a game, many take part
From design, to publishing, to the cover art.
But I write these words to tell you the story
Of one of the many who won’t receive much glory.

It is the Graphic Designer of whom I speak
And for a smooth game ‘tis they that you should seek.

Though most tend to think that their only real duty
Is to ensure that a game is a great thing beauty.
But graphic design is so much more
Than helping a game look fine in a store.

The wise and wizened gamers know
‘tis these graphic guardians that ensure the flow
Of fast and intuitive games that let you see
A story unfold via rules transparency.

They accomplish this feat with visual cues and styles
Such as arrows, icons, tokens and dials.

Like Frontiers of Aliens with lines that connect
The planet to space zones which help you select.

And who could tell if the humans ever got far
If there were no dials on that great Battlestar?

Would not Camelot’s shadows be a much darker test
If the board lacked hints of what’s needed per quest?

So the next time you flip through your favorite rulebook
Pause on the credits page; give it a look.

Take note of the names on the fifth or sixth line
Following those simple words: Graphic Design

Because without their skill it would be quite alarming
As all of our games would look like the one about farming.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This thing called Kinect

Well, it required playing "the Birthday card" but not only did I score the new RB3 stuff last week but I was able to convince my Wife that I needed Kinect and a game or two for it this week...

She picked it up for me yesterday, and we got it all set up. We played for about 3 hours last night, then I played again with the kids this morning for another half hour before work. You definitely get a little bit of a work out if you are not a very active person, and I've got sore and stiff muscles today to show for it.

The Tech
Set up was easy, although you're gonna need a good sized room. You NEED to be 6-10 feet away from the sensor, esp if you want to play two players. If your living room is small... forget it.

Assuming you have the space, set up is simple, You plug it in, run a calibration thing for the room (takes about 10 min) and you are ready to go. The crazy thing is... how quickly it works.

Xbox Kinect User Interface (UI)
To be honest, the thing I was most excited about with Kinect wasn't the games, but the voice and gesture control of X-box media. This works well and doesn't require flailing, however it is much more limited than I had hoped. Let's break it down...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Keytar of Rock

Just played more of Rock Band 3 with the new keyboard/keytar.

It really is ingenious how Harmonix ramps difficulty up from 'normal' mode easy through hard and 'pro' mode easy through hard.  It is very easy to get started in normal mode, it's just one hand on five keys, very simple. And very easy to play standing up like a keytar.  Pro mode requires both hands and you'll want it on your lap or on a table.

Like the drums, getting started in simple but will take a long time to master.  And you definitely feel like your playing a piano and doing ok once chords kick in and octave shifts start happening at higher difficulties.   You might even think you're getting quite good until you run into a great pianist's music like Elton John!!

Suddenly you feel like you just got taken to school.  Which is really what makes music games like Rock band so exceptional. You learn to appreciate all the elements that go into making a great song, and which bands have stronger musicians on which instruments.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Put some cowboys in my sandbox please...

I've always respected and admired the technical achievements and fun of the GTA series, but the theme always kinda bothered me.  I never really could get into being a gangster or crime lord.  It's one of the reasons I enjoyed Crackdown more than GTA IV, despite GTA IV being a deeper more beautifully crafted game.

Red Dead Redemption takes the great technology and open game-play concepts of GTA and places them in a setting that is much more appealing.  While I'm sure it will be possible to be a 'bad guy' in the old west, it brings to life a genre that has been ill served to date by video games.  To finally have a western themed game that has all the polish, attention, and budget of a GTA title is very exciting for me, and probably one of the reasons the game was so highly anticipated by many.