Blurbs from the Booth-The Games We Play

Note- I love my wife, but this one might seem a bit down on her.  It’s not.  She’s who I most often game with-either because she loves the games we play, or (more likely) it’s because I drag her into my insane adventures.  Love you my dear.


I’ve been thinking about the games I play most often.  Once a month, I get a game of Pathfinder Society in as well as some Shadowrun and DCCRGP.  But weekly, I get a game of DnD in as well as the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.  Why so much love for DnD and the Card Game?

Well, I think it’s because of WHO I’m playing with as opposed to WHAT I’m playing.  Most often around dinner, my wife and I will cook and then set up the Adventure Card Game.  It’s fun, and it’s better than just staring at the TV while we eat.  So, I play that game a ton.  What I don’t play is the Shadowrun Crossfire game as much.  It’s not a bad game, but my wife doesn’t like it as much.  Since Jackson’s gaming scene is pretty small and I like my wife, I choose to play with her.  So, no Crossfire on the weekly schedule.

This also goes out to non-cooperative games as well.  My wife hates games like Agricola.  It’s far too much stress as you NEVER have enough time to do all the things that you want to do.  I enjoy the frustration a bit, but she’s of the opinion that gaming shouldn’t be a stressful as life.  Also, she hates games like Magic: the Gathering and Sentinels of the Multiverse.  Both of those are games where you have to read a ton of information on small cards.  She love games like 7 Wonders as they play quick, have good strategy, and don’t make you read a novel each time you play a card.

I’m a pretty universal gamer, and I hope that the blog posts have shown you that.  So, how do I do that AND play games with my wife?  Well, I have to actively seek out other opportunities to game.  Cons are a great way to find the random games to play.  This is a great way to get new games to the table and to meet new gamers.  Also, buying the equivalent of a board game a week can get expensive, so cons give me a chance to play a game and not have to buy that full thing!

I also game online.  OCTGN, Board Game Arena, Board Game Geek, Roll20, and Boiteajeux also give me a chance to try new games, meet new players.  I don’t have to drive cross-country to play some new awesome games, and I get to see what else is out there.  Bonus-all of these are free!  Check them out if you get a chance.

And, as a final way to get new games out there, I game at my local store once a week and twice a month at a local groups clubhouse.  At these places I bring whatever games I want as I drag my friends into whatever strange Euro-card-dice-3D game hybrid I bought of some strange backwoods website.  It’s a blast when you can meet the crazy gamers out there who will enjoy whatever is brought to the table.

How about you?  Who do you game with, how do they shape the way you game, and what do you do to play different games?

Daily Punch 11-28-14 Sorcerous Power feat for DnD 5e

How about a way to give sorcerers  bit more of an edge?  Here is a feat for that…


Sorcerous Power

The power is strong in you.  Gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your Charisma by 1 to a maximum of 20
  • Increase your Sorcery Points by 1 for every four character levels.


Ring Side Report-Dungeon Master’s Guide

Product-Dungeon Master’s Guide

System– Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition

Producer– Wizards of the Coast

Price– ~$50 here

TL; DR– Bands all together, let’s rock! 98%


Basics– Let’s get ready to roll!  The Dungeon Master’s Guide is the final book of the core three for Dungeons and Dragons.  This book covers all the behind the Dungeon Master’s screen aspects of the game.  It is roughly broken into three sections: creating a world/universe, creating adventures, and the math of the game/how to run Dungeons and Dragons.


Mechanics or Crunch– Ya’ know what I HATE in a RPG designed for the Dungeon Master?  No random tables!  Yes, I know they are a crutch that bad GM’s use when they don’t prep for an adventure.  But, I don’t want to have to figure out what I’m doing every second of the game, and sometimes the players will want to do something and having a random answer will really help make their choices happen at a moment’s notice.  This book as random tables out the wazoo-from making a complete random dungeon to a random adventure and the encounters between!  Also, this book goes into great detail on how to make the adventures in a non-random thought out way.  From the math behind monsters to how to hand out items and treasure, the book does an excellent job at making your life as a DM as simple as it can explaining how to set up a game in a manner where it won’t crash and fail from problems on the DM’s side of the screen.  Also, found the missing monster by CR guide from the Monster Manual!  It’s good to see it here, but it would be better to see it also in the Monster Manual. 5/5


Theme or Fluff-This book is full of content and absent of any content in the right ways.  The book goes into how to make a game work as a story and how to fill that story with people to meet and to kill while providing the default multiverse a bit of background too.  From the geography of the multiverse to how a circle of elders works in a feudal village, the game explains how to design a world and a story.  It’s a little light on advice on how to handle players.  That’s an experience thing, but some more sage wisdom on how to handle different kinds of people is always appreciated my new RPG fans.  The book does point to a reading list of books on how to GM, so that does cover kind of what I was hoping this book would have for the newer GM’s out there.  Overall, it’s got great story and tips on how to build your own story!  4.75/5


Execution– Just like the other two DnD 5e books, this one is well done!  There are enough words per page to inform, but not enough to bore.  There are lots of pictures to make the reader think of ideas to throw at their players, and almost all of them are new!  I used to play “spot the old art” in my DnD books, but I only saw one reused piece of art in this book which makes me extremely happy (along with the random tables!).  And, the new art is awesome!  If you want to learn how to make a book great from a layout, art, and design sense, then it’s this and Paizo’s books. 5/5


Summary– Look, if you’re running DnD, you bought this on Black Friday like the rest of us.  It’s that simple.  WotC spread out the core three books, and if you’ve bought the first two, then you bought this one too. If you’re new to RPGs, then get this book as well as the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual.  This book has an awesome layout, great story ideas, and some randomness to help you get your players into the action as quickly as possible.  If you love Dungeons and Dragons, you need this book.  If you want to learn how to run Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, this is an awesome book that will give you all the tools you need to build the games you want and have a blast doing it.  This is a great capstone for the basic trinity of 5th edition DnD.  98%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Shadows of Malice



Product– Shadows of Malice

Producer– Devious Weasel

Price– ~$50 here

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-2-6 hours (2 to 8 players)

TL; DR– Say yes to being a God in the American style game. 86%


Basics-Fight the darkness!  In Shadows of Malice, an ancient evil is stirring, and the players take the rolls of avatars of light trying to stop it.  To do this, players must find the hidden strongholds of light among all the strongholds that have fallen to darkness before the vile Xulthûl.  Each player starts with an item, soulshards, and a special power.  Over a series of turns, the heroes move across the map revealing towns, mystics, monster lairs, and strongholds while shadow tries to find the strongholds of light.  Each turn, players roll two six sided dice, one for movement and one for fate.  If the player rolls doubles they draw a fate card.  Fate cards range from great effects like doing extra damage to horrible effects like permanently getting a negative on all dice rolls.  Fate cards last until they are spent or until a new fate card is drawn.  The players can then spend movement points to move across the map.  If player end on tokens or monster lairs on the map, they can encounter what’s there.  In towns, you can spend soulshards to get items like potions or treasure.  Mystics will heal or remove fate cards and make potions.  Monster lairs and stronghold have monsters.  When players encounter a monster, they roll to see the monsters type, the monsters power, and how many abilities the monster has.  The type affects some powers and treasures, but provides flavor for the encounter.  The power determines how much damage the creature does, how much the creature adds to its attack, and how much life the creature has.  The abilities add new flavor to each combat like preventing damage or adding to the monsters attack.  Combat is pretty simple.  Both sides roll a six sided dice and add bonuses based on treasure, monster’s power and other cards.  Before each roll, players can spend soulshards to activate abilities or to increase their dice rolls.  Whatever side has the higher combat check does one damage to the other side.  Some treasure, abilities, and powers allow monsters and character to possibly do extra damage depending on random dice rolls.  Combat continues over these rounds until one side runs away or until someone dies.  If the players win, they gain soulshards based on the powers available and have a 50/50 chance to gain clear soulshards on a one for one basis for each the monsters life points.  If players travel together (forming a band), each character beyond the first player add an extra six sided die to the player’s combat roll.  After the players turn, the shadows take a turn.  Shadows randomly remove one seal from their realm each turn.  Then, either spawn a new shadow or randomly move a shadow present on its own game board.  If a shadow moves onto the spawn point, it gains life.  However, if a shadow moves onto an open portal, the shadow moves to the player’s side.  From now on, this shadow will move one to two spaces toward the closest stronghold.  If the shadow gets to that stronghold, and the stronghold is a light stronghold, then the shadow becomes Xulthûl and fights the players.  Players can fight shadows in the normal world to prevent this, or kill Xulthûl.  Play repeats like above with players having a turn, then the shadows.  The player’s goal is to find the hidden light strongholds among the shadow ones.  For each light one found, the players gain power.  However, for each shadow one found or uncovered by the shadows in the main world, the darkness gains power and all monsters are harder to fight.  Once players find the one light stronghold per map tile, they win!


Mechanics-The mechanics are pretty simple with lots of randomness from the dice. When you know what you’re doing, you can generate monsters and end fights quickly, moving the game closer to two hours rather than the six..  The randomness can really bite you in some cases, but since you roll tons of dice, the swingyness of the dice is counteracted by probability.  This game feels a lot like Arkham Horror with moves, combat, and some events determined by dice.  That’s some good company to be in.  4.5/5


Theme- This game really excels at the theme.  The game starts with an interesting story, and adds random elements that are on point.  The game is a quest to discover things and defeat monsters.  You get the feel of combat and exploration with lots of variation.  Some changes are pretty cosmetic like the type of monster, but even those simple changes do allow you to build a story in your mind.  It’s not perfect as some elements like the monster abilities can randomly generate monsters that don’t make sense (vampire ooze with an exoskeleton!).  But, you get the chance to start on a story from the book and build on the story of being a god if you want too. 4.5/5


Instructions-I don’t like how the rules are laid out.  The rules use a numbers system with subsections numbers, kind of like a legal document.  I haven’t seen that done really well, and that kind of hurts this book.  Also, this book really needs a quick turn-order page.  The order of turn actions is all in the book, but the book is a bit unorganized and you will get lost for a while trying to determine how turns work.  However, if you read a rule a few times, you do get a decent sense of how to play.  And, this document does list all the pieces (AND give little pictures of the pieces!) and what they do instead of assuming each piece will make sense.  Those details really do help make the game that much easier to understand and play.  While I try to just read the rules when I play, Devious Weasel has several videos explaining the game.  They do a good job, but by themselves, the rules do a decent job of explaining how to play this game. 3.75/5


Execution-This game is as third party as they come.  It’s from a smaller company.  I have to admit, even as a well versed gamer, I’ve always been a bit hesitant to play games by smaller, local companies.  They sometimes don’t have the production quality or art skill of larger companies.  I’ve seen quite a few badly drawn maps with cheap quality cardboard pieces that just don’t stand up to any plays.  This game convinced me to give up the prejudice.  The pieces are nice, chunky cardboard.  The art is generic but well done.  You can tell this is a small company, but it’s not bad.  In fact, I’m pretty happy with what’s in the box.  Heck the box is even well done!  My problems are with the dice.  I would like a few more different colors instead of different size dice.  Also, turn guide or turn order cards and extra terrain/monster generation cards would have really knocked this one out of the park.    4.5/5


Summary– If you’re looking for a fantasy version of Arkham Horror, this is the game for you.  Honestly, I had a blast playing this one.  It’s got simple mechanics that generate a near infinite series of combinations of games as players get the chance to explore a new world every game. It’s not perfect as randomness can make some games simply not fun to play due to some crushing difficulty, random monsters that don’t make sense, or just monsters making all the right moves.  However, if you can get past the standard problems of American style games, you will get to be a god and save the day!  If someone asks you to play a god in Shadows of Malice, SAY YES! 86%

Ring Side Report-Concert of Europe

Product-The Concert in Flames

System– Victoriana

Producer– Cubicle 7 Entertainment

Price– ~$20 here–The-Concert-in-Flames

TL; DR– Great adventure, but only for the GM. 87%


Basics-Can you stop Europe from burning?  An ancient evil is being awoken by a small group trying to upset the tentative balance of Europe and bend a fiend to their will while the fate of the Concert of Europe rides in the balance.  This book also provides GM with extremely detailed notes on the geopolitical standing of the Europe countries in 1856.


Mechanics or Crunch-This is NOT an option book, but that doesn’t make it a bad book.  This book adds some new mechanics like new races and a new country specific creature or enemy for each of the different regions discussed.  It’s good, but you should not expect some new options and creatures each page like a player’s option book or monster manual.  The countries do have great write ups describing the make-up of each country, so you can quickly create things like a group of upscale Russians if you need them at a moment’s notice.  The adventure has simple stat blocks for each enemy which will make running the adventure easy and quick.  What’s here is well done, but you cannot go into this one hoping for tons of new crunch.  4.5/5


Theme or Fluff- This is where the book truly excels.  Just like the base book, this book could almost be an excellent historical reference if you strip out the steampunk and magic elements.  Each country in 1850’s Europe gets an in-depth write-up.  The adventure itself has a ton of depth as well as a great story for your players to run amuck in.  The story has elements of government intrigue, magic, religion, and some trans-country train adventure.  It’s great steampunk fun. 5/5


Execution– While the fluff and crunch are great; the execution has a few problems.  There are some art to break up the text, but there are too many pages with just black text on grey background.  This is a classic case of textbook problem.  I do like some the way the book is divided.  But, the font is a bit too small.  And, there is just too much of it. This book also makes an inexcusable error for any fantasy book discussing geography.  There is NO detailed map of Europe!  Nor is there a map of the adventure train routs.  While the countries are basically the same as real world 1856, a better map would have really helped with adventure design and the adventure in the book.  I do like the pictures from the adventure as you get some nice hand drawn pictures of some of the major characters.  All together, this isn’t a badly executed book, but some flaws do hurt the overall presentation. 3.5/5


Summary– If you want to take your players across Victoriana Europe, then buying this book is a no brainer.  GM’s get all the information they need to make each European country feel distinct from one another with far more depth than there is in the base Victoriana book.  If you want crunch options, then this book isn’t for you.  The adventure in this book is a fun romp across Europe as the players try to keep the Concert of Europe from falling apart.  If that’s the kind of adventure you and your players want to play, this is a great adventure.  However, if you don’t want to control the fate of the world and just want to play a game in London, then this is one to pass.  There are some concerns I have with the execution, but those won’t prevent you from enjoying this book if you want some excellent write ups describing Europe.  If you want some cross European intrigue and a great adventure to start that controversy, go get this one. 87%

Daily Punch 11-25-14 Martial Training feat for DnD 5e

I liked the feats that gave you a splash of another class’ powers in Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.  There are powers for the caster classes (wizard, cleric, et al).  How about some for our martial friends?  How about the fighter?


Martial Training

You might not be an impressive warrior, but you have learned a thing or two.  Gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your strength or dexterity by 1 to a maximum of 20.
  • Gain one fighter style (PHB page 72).



Daily Punch 11-24-14 Magic to Muscle Memory adept power for Shadowrun 5e

Let’s post one more adept power for Shadowrun 5e.

Magic to Muscle

Cost: 0.75 per level (max 1/2 ranks in skill rounded down)

Some times it’s training, some times its luck, and some times…. it’s a bit more.  You may buy as many levels of this power are you want.  However, you may only apply as many levels as equal to half your ranks in a skill to that skill (rounded down).  For every level you have applied to a skill, you gain an extra die to skill rolls with that skill.