Daily Punch 9-27-13 Diplomat background in DnD Next

Here is a new background for your DnD Next Characters-the diplomat




You have spent your time working in the middle of two groups in conflict.  You spent your time either on the front of war or in business negotiations.  You serve either for the good of those involved or for your own pocketbook.

trait-Between Two Groups

You are deft at standing between two worlds.  Your work proceeds you, and when you offer your services people know who you are.  When you work as a go between for two groups, you will be payed for your services, and if things do not go well, you will not be targeted by either group unless you attack first



Skills:    Persuasion, Insight, History

Tools: Mounts (land), Vehicles(land)



Three of your choice


Traveler’s Clothes, fine clothing, backpack, ink, ink pen, paper (ten sheets), merchant’s scales, signet ring, sealing wax, 133 gp, 4 sp, 8 cp

Daily Punch 9-26-13

How about some more feats for DnD Next?


Skill Training

You have dedicated yourself to studying a new skill in your free time.

You gain the following:

  • Gain proficiency in two skills of your choice
  • Gain a +1 bonus to an ability score associated with one of the skills  to a maximum of 20



Ring Side Report- A review of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (OGL)


Price – ~$50



TL;DR-This is the basic rule book for the amazingly popular Pathfinder role-playing game.  It’s an phenomenal book that is well executed.  I have a few problems, but nothing that isn’t easy to overlook. 5/5


Art-The art style in this book sets the pace for all the other books in the Pathfinder RPG.  Its a nice style that always looks heroic and fits well with the world they created.  Damn fine stuff.


Mechanics-The mechanics of pathfinder are basically DnD 3.5.  Nothing too risky here.  If you liked 3.5, then you will like this game.  Any problems in 3.5 show up here.  That’s part of the good and bad with building of an established OGL system.  However, Pathfinder is worth the price of admission alone for simplifying the grapple rules.  That right there makes the game worth it.  HANDS DOWN!


Execution- The book is well organized with nice tables of contents and indexes to help you find what you need.  It describes the mechanics well, but as before, some of the minor problems from 3.5 creep into the execution of the book.  These are smaller issues, but they will end up making you go to the Paizo forums to get help.  Another problem I have is the lack of a bestiary in this book.  Most books at the $50 price typically include a small bestiary.  I know that many more will follow, but why include the GM guide and the Players guide together if you don’t include a smaller bestiary too?  Again, it’s a minor problem, but some food for thought.


Book Quality-  This book is well done.  Its heavy, and it should be for the price.  You feel like you get your value for the price.  The paper quality is high, so no smudging!


Final Thoughts-This is a good book.  The problems I have are nit-picking.  Good value for the money.  If you like 3.5, you will love this!

Ring Side Report- GrandCon Day 3

This was the last day of the con.  The whole con just came off the high of day two, and it was a much lower key day.  I was scheduled to help run demos at the Passport press booth, but due to how slow it was I wasn’t needed.  Seeing as I had a free day at a con, I made the most of it.


First Game-Qin by R and R games-Qin is an area control game.  Each player has a number of pagodas that they play on the board when you connect at least two tiles of the same color.  Each turn you place a tile, see if you get to place a pagoda, and then see if you connected a larger area then your opponent and thus steal his land.  Connect five areas of the same color and you get to put a double pagoda that lets you keep an area permanently. When a player plays his last pagoda, he wins.  It’s a pretty simple game.  I won, but it wasn’t a runaway victory.  I had some fun and we played a three player game in less than 30 minutes.  Good simple design.  I may pick this one up.


I then checked the dealer room if I was needed, saw I wasn’t, and then proceeded to buy a crap ton of stuff.  The winner of this con has to be Passport games for me.  There were some amazing deals at this con.  From Passport games, I bought Castaways (based on my play the night before) and Trajen (which was a steal at $40 bucks!).  Then, from AEG, I picked up Trains (last copy for $10 off), and Guild Hall.  The last purchase was the Conquest of Kumanjaro from Mage Wars.  Honestly, if there was more Mage Wars, I would buy more stuff.  I think I will make it my goal to get this game rolling in Jackson.  I love the format of a non-random CCG.  Then the wife and I moved to our last game before heading home.


Last game of the Con-Guild Hall by AEG-It seems stupid to buy a game before you play, but I had played this before with some friends and my wife hadn’t.  The game is very simple but deep!  Each player places two cards each turn.  These cards give up special abilities that are based on the number of same card you have in your guild hall.  Get a full color set and you get to trade them in for points.  First to 20 wins.  What makes this game deep is the number of combos you can build based on a simple deck of cards.  I lost this one, but it’s still a great game that I can’t wait to play some more.


Final thoughts on GrandCon-First things first, this con can NOT be at the same place next year.  And that has nothing to do with the place!  The expected Saturday numbers were ~250.  Actual Saturday numbers?  1200-1500!  That is amazing for a first time con.  Then again, Ed Greenwood way playing charity Lords of Waterdeep all day, the Hickman’s (Is the plural of Hickman Hickmen?) were doing panels and signing autographs all the time.  It looked like the entire Pathfinder army was out in force.  The GenCon Game library was in town.  There was NEVER a chance to not do anything.  For three whole days I gamed!  That is amazing!  This is a win.  Now this might not be GenCon or Origins, but man I had fun.  Great venders with amazing deals.  Got to see a bunch of my friends from the major cons.  My wife was a little big traumatized by the sheer number of people, but that’s just because there were WAY too many people in the small area of the con.  That said, I can’t wait till next year. I’m going.  I may try to get there earlier to join the Mage Wars Tournament and game a whole lot more.  My regret this year was I didn’t play that many RPGs or do any demos.  Next, year I will fix this!  See you guys next year at GrandCon!

The strange was I didn’t see a DnD presence at all.  There was a few scattered 4e and 3.5 games, but no DnD Next.  Maybe it’s me, but this should be at cons like to keep the interest up.  Food for though.

Ring Side Report- Castaways Board game Review

Game: Castaways

Players: 1-4

Playtime(setup/play/clean-up): 120 minutes

Set Ending: Yes

TL;DR-An awesome game that REALY needs a new instruction manual 77.5%

How You Play: Players take the role of castaways on an island.  Each turn they assign two meeples to different activities such as finding food or wood, resting, taking camp actions, building, or exploring the island.  The players must build enough objects to be rescued as well as fully explore the island to get free.  The players must work together to succeed, but one player with the most impressive story will win the game at the end.

Theme: This game oozes theme.  Every action you take feels like something you need to do and are things that feel right.  The only problem is the mechanics of the win and that will be below but that’s as it detracts from the theme.  I felt invested in my survival on the island.  I was sad when the tidal wave washed away the goat.  I fought the rest of the group when they voted to eat the dog.  I was scared when a shark ate my leg.  This was awesome!  4.5/5
Mechanics: The general mechanics of this game is a “choose your own adventure book” meets a Euro worker placement game.  That’s it.  There are decks of cards much like Agricola that are semi-random but seeded with different cards for each play through.  There is a bit of a random mechanic for getting lost on explorations, but you can mitigate that through giving up story point.  I like how the mechanics work.  The one area that doesn’t make much sense is that someone can win.  I loved the co-op nature of the game right until the end.  As a strait co-op game, this game is an instant hit.  However, the end point comparison feel a bit tacked on.  Honestly, when we played we decided to drop it as it really only serves to divide the players.  4.5/5

Art/Components:  It has good art that’s only a little racist.  You can tell that this game came from “Not America” because some of the things on it might not pass modern American sensibilities.  That said, it looks like old school Robinson Crusoe art.  The board is good quality.  The game has lots of fairly well designed cards (see instructions for why their only fairly well designed) and cute components.  Nice, plastic meeples, but as a board gamer, I’m not sure why these are plastic.  It’s not bad.  However, I want some wood!  I do not like chance!  4.5/5

Instructions: Here is where I whine.  This game was made by a guy in Spain, translated to German, then translated to English.  And the majority of the instructions are ok.  They get their points across, but the set up part is HORRIBLE!  The instructions are really only one page of a 10+ page book, but it took my group of college educated friends over an hour of reading and rereading to understand what they were trying to get across.  Holy cow!  Maybe you can “Rain Man” these instructions out, but honestly, it’s a major turn off.   As a point of advice, there are 105 cards marked 1-105, but these cards come from every deck in the game.  Make the deck of numbered cards FIRST AND SET THEM ASISE FACE UP.  Take all the cards marked “0” and set them aside.  Those “0” cards you will shuffle and draw a pile of eight from to add a few random story seeds to your game.  THEN separate the number “0” cards into their proper decks based on the back of the cards and then mix these new decks to randomize the exploration cards.   There.  I just explained that first set up page better than the instructions! 2/5

Final Thoughts: All and all a pretty good game.  I enjoyed it, even after the rocky start.  I had lots of fun and still miss my goat and dog!  Give this one a try, but have someone experienced with set up be your teacher.  77.5%

The obvious comparison-Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island vs. Castaways-Ok this debate is best summarized by the phrase: American Style vs. Euro game.  Robinson Crusoe is a great game also, but it’s very American Style.  The island set up in Robinson Crusoe is completely determined by random tile draw.  It’s not a “bad” mechanic, but in the game I played, the random really screwed over the players.  Also in Robinson Crusoe, all events are resolved by custom dice.  Again, not “bad”, but if you hate that then you will not enjoy that game.  Also Robinson Crusoe is also a fully co-op game while Castaways is has a competitive difference at the end.  A final difference is difficulty.  Robinson Crusoe has PUNISHING difficulty, while Castaways was relatively easy.  That difference in difficulty can drive players away.  My wife wanted to play Castaways again, but based on my play of Robinson Crusoe, she will not even touch that game.  If you can only buy one, then maybe my collection is the best reference.  I own Castaways after one play, but don’t own Robinson Crusoe after one play through.  Food for thought.

Ring Side Report-Grand Con Day 2

Having spend the day at the convention hall and night at the hotel, here’s my thoughts…


First event of the day-Narosia https://sites.google.com/a/legendsmiths.com/legendsmiths/ -My wife saw this one and thought, let’s do this!  This game is Hero system, and neither of us have ever played that system.  Its a great system!  It has some of my favorite things: action choice that affects time, speeds for characters that reflect extra actions, randomness that is mitigated by skill.  I loved the game.  Lots of great times here.  As for Narosia itself, its a setting that is designed to harkens back to the old games of yore.  Old school dungeon crawling with a compelling back-story reason for why your doing things.  It was a lot of fun.  The GM for the game was the main game designer, and that is always awesome!  Give this one a look make, some facebook/twitter/G+ friends and keep the pressure on these guys to make their game come out soon!


Next- Smash Up by AEG-I’ve seen this game explode on the convention scene, and I’ve wanted to play this for a while. I got my friend together and joined a group at the con.  The basics of the game are: take two different decks of creatures, smash them together, and play for terrain control leading to points.  First to 15 points wins.  It’s pretty easy mechanics wise and its theme is crazy and fun.  The differences come into play as each creature deck play drastically different.  Think of one deck that might work better if you have no cards in hand and a second deck that works by moving enemy’s around to different areas.  All and all, I wouldn’t turn this game down if it was brought to the table.  However, if you are looking for an eight hour Eurogame experience, this is not the game for you.  You have choice, but your choices are usually pretty limited.  Keep that in mind going in for a much better time.


Aside time with designer!-This is one of the major reasons I go to cons.  I LOVE meeting new game designers and hearing why they did what they did.  Plaid Hat Games is on the scene and they are selling their games at a discount.  They made the City of Remnants game.  I met with the main designer and when his words are “glad you’ve heard of my game, I made this, and we’re selling this at a discount” you get money.  The part of my brain the controls logic and finance shuts down and I just had my money away.  Take note game designers and game companies…..


After dinner, I demoed Sentinels of the Multiverse to my wife and a friend at the con.  This game is a complete co-op game where every person is handed a deck of cards that represents their hero; a villain plays a bad event/cards, the heroes respond with cards/powers, and then the environment does “something” (usually bad).  And this is how the game is played.  I love co-op games that are simple and fun with lots of replay.  Great game even though we were DESTROYED by Citizen Dawn at the Mars Base.  When we talked with some of the demo team about this game, they suggested that Citizen Dawn was the WORST villain to start with, and we should have started with the Baron.


The last game of the night was Castaways by Passport Games. I’m going to be working at this booth today and wanted to try their newest game, so they let me play a demo copy.  It was a bit of a problem setting-up the game because of some English language translation issues.  However, when we got rolling the game is amazing.  The best way to describe this game is a Euro worker placement game combined with a choose your own adventure book.  All players play castaways on an island.  You must work together with some options giving you narrative points.  The narrative points let you win, but if you only focus on points, everybody will lose.  Lots of fun, and I can’t wait to play again.


Well that was day two of Grandcon.  I can’t wait to see you all in the demo hall tomorrow.  Look for me at the Passport Games booth.  Hope to see you there!

Ring Side Report-Grand Con Day One

GrandCon is a new convention in Grand Rapids Michigan.  I’ve been here for about 12 hours (including sleeping), let’s give this the run down on my thoughts so far.


RegistrationGrandCon is run by a quality group of people who know what they’re doing.  They have made an interesting choice that, had I understood what I was doing, would have made things a little less troublesome.  When you register for the con, you have to create individual accounts and pay for all your stuff individually.  I don’t like this because I can’t buy my wife and I our stuff together, but it tracks what events each person attends.  Had I known, this would not be a problem, but when I got there, I got put in the problem line.  They staff was quick to help me get through my woes and my wife and I got our badges pretty quickly.  Keep this in mind if you go in the future.  I see the logic, but I don’t like the end results of not being able to buy multiple event tickets at once.  Every con has something a little different.  This is not a deal breaker by any means, but keep this in mind.


The Location-GrandCon takes place at the beautiful campus of Calvin College at the Prince Convention Center.  This place is amazing.  Also, the con price for rooms is ~$80 bucks. That is phenominal!  Rooms are GIANT.  Flat screen TV, FREE WIFI, walk in giant showers, and a couch.  Beds a good.  I’m pretty happy.  We’re a little out from the rest of Grand Rapids, and the roads to get here are a bit confusing, but I think it was well worth it.


Gaming-My wife and I walked around, saw one of our friends, and hopped into a game of “Trains.”  Its great to see a thriving dropin gaming community.  Makes me happy.  This place has the GenCon game library.  The room with the library is full to the gills, but I love seeing gamers gaming and making new friends.  Lots of RPGs on the schedule and lots of board games.  No digital, but I’m not a digitial gaming con guy.  At the rate this FIRST YEAR con is going, I expect them to top GenCon in a few years based on the line-up of guests alone….


Guests-I’ve never been much of a panal person (takes away from the gaming time!), but this place has an amazing guest line up.  Go check their line up on their website.  Its pretty impressive for a  non-estabilshed con to get this many headliners to show up and be at this con.


Ok, that was the general.  Let’s do a mini review of a game I played-“Trains” by AEG.



Playtime-30-60 minutes.  (Even a first time game!)

Style-Deck building, terrain control, and world development

Basics-In this game you play different groups developing the train routs in Japan. That sounds boring, but its is far from it.  Players get a deck of cards that are money, lay tracks, and build station.  Stations get you point, laying tracks build from across the board, and money is used to pay for the tracks and new cards.  The deck is very much like Dominion, except the terrain control element makes the focus different.  You can get point cards in your deck, but the real focus is building your cross country rail lines to new stations.  The limiting factor for the game is every time you build, you generate waste that goes into the discard pile and slows you down.  That helps prevent the run away victor problem and makes you think about how you play.  As a turn you can buy/use cards/build rail/build station all at the same time and are not limited by the number of action you can perform or you can discard waste.  You can see the learning process AEG went through from seeing “Dominion” and making “Thunderstone and Thunderstone Advance” and it pays off in a well designed game.  The game we played in had little inter personal fighting, but that may change with different cards and different maps.  A really interesting fact is in this game you basically play alone.  Others build stuff and  you can build to it for points, but its not like in “Dominion” or “Thunderstone” where others can add stuff to your deck.  In this game you play your cubes (rails) pretty much without the other plays interference or objection.

Thoughts-OK AEG, you’re getting money.  This game played quick, was easy to learn, and was a game my wife will play again.  It didn’t have the “Dominion” problem of there is only one way to win or the problem of the person who’s played the most times will win.  I won my first game, the teacher was close behind, and my wife was hot on our heels.  No tooth and nail, drag out fights for my first game at this con, no stress, just playing my own game.  You will get a full review so as the game is only $60 at my local game store.