Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gen Con 2013 - On the Floor- Day 1


We're done with Day 1 on the Gen Con floor and it was just INSANE. There's so much good out there this year, and not enough time to stand in the lines to get it all.  So let's get down to it!

Space Cadets:Dice Duels is a lot of fun


While waiting in line to get into the con early, we met up the designer of Space Cadets, and he just happened to be carrying his new game with him.  A quick tutorial later, and we were playing 2 on 2 against the extremely kind and generous people of The D6 Generation.  We narrowly were able to defeat them, but more importantly got to get a really good feel for how it works.  Describing as Escape meets Space Alert wouldn't be completely inaccurate, but it's definitely a versus style game.  If you have a large group, you definitely need to check this one out.


Firefly is unveiled, and sells out


As you can see in this picture, there wasn't much Firefly product there, but the tables they setup looked amazing.


As they sold to the VIGs, we witnessed people taking 4 - 5 copies up to the register at once.  Stuff like this really needs a limit of 1, MAYBE 2 to ensure as many people as possible can get their hands on it,  VG30 got a copy of it, and took some pictures of the unboxing, which we'll share once we get a bit more time to put it together the right way.  So far I'm not disappointed with it.

Privateer Press Fans are Crazy


Privateer Press released a 10 year commemorative box set and included an early release of Butcher 3, which fans were willing to spend FOUR HOURS in line to get.  I wish I was able to get a picture of it, but the line went from around their booth, down the corridor, out the door, up the stairs, and around the corner.  There's good reason for this, though, as both Warmachine and Hordes versions of High Command, the new Level 7 game, and lots of early releases were available for purchase, and oh yeah, the commemorative set was limited to 1,000 pieces total.  


Paizo Fans are Almost as Crazy


Paizo fans only had to line up around their booth, down the hall and out the door,  which I had the please to take part of for about 45 minutes.  Paizo's system really is based on the trust system, as patrons went to the boot, picked out what they wanted, and literally walked out of the convention doors to get inline to purchase it.  Fortunately, Paizo leadership were walking down the line offering people to "Get out of hell with cash".  They did a really good job of handling people, and the cashiers were on the ball about subscription pick ups.  

There's lots more going on in the hall, and we'll be back tomorrow to share more pictures and report more on the happenings of the con.  Happy gaming!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gen Con 2013 - The Ones to Watch


The dealer hall for Gen Con 2013 will be opening in a little less than 48 hours, so it's time to put up our list of things that you are going to want to try to get your hands on as soon as possible before they all end up selling out.  These are the Gen Con 2013 Ones to Watch.

Trains - AEG



Trains is a deck building game that incorporates building a railway on a board.  You can take different strategies with focusing on improving your deck, or focus on building the railway or split your energy and use the resources from your deck to make your board play more efficient.  This one was originally an independent Japanese title that AEG picked up, cleaned up, and is releasing in the US.  People attending the AEG Board Game Night may want to hold off on this until Saturday, but by them it could be sold out.  This one will likely go fast.

Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak - Fantasy Flight Games



We're not positive that this will be at Gen Con, but we're pretty sure.  Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak finishes up the series for players, allowing them to live out the final season of the program, and if the previous games are any indication at all, this is going to be another smash hit.  All that matters to us is that we can finally play as Romo Lampkin, the best character on the show.


Eldritch Horror - Fantasy Flight Games

 


Another game that we're not positive will be there for sale, but we're pretty sure, is the Eldritch Horror game.  Fantasy Flight has gone through great lengths to try and assure players that this is not a reskinned or replacement to their Arkham Horror series, but looking over the board and components really makes us wonder if that's really true or not.  There's some opinion that they took the Arkham Horror game to the limits they thought they could and needed a new outlet to integrate ideas that they've had and been unable to insert them into the old series.  We'll get our first taste of it at Gen Con.

Firefly - Gale Force 9

 


Lots of speculation has been made on this game on whether or not it'll be at Gen Con for sale, and based off a post of gf9.com yesterday releasing the rules and stating that anybody who bought the game at the convention would receive a limited edition resin miniature, it leads us to believe that it'll be there.  GF9 made a great name for themselves last year with their surprise release of Spartacus, will they be able to do it again?  Play as a firefly captain, hire a crew, do jobs, get paid.  Aim to misbehave, and watch out for reavers.  The material is all here, but we'll know soon if it all comes together to make gold.


Dungeon Twister: The Card Game - Asmodee

 


Dungeon Twister: The Card Game takes the traditional Dungeon Twister format and converts it into a two player game that's a lot easier to take with you.  Apparently, the entire game has been converted to card form, and the designers feel that it is exactly as if you're playing the board game.  Looking forward to giving this one a try.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game - Paizo

 


Our #1 Pick for Gen Con is the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.  Paizo is known for quality products, and this looks to be no exception.  Players take on the role of a character in the Pathfinder universe, and build a basic deck to go with them.  As they adventure, they'll find new cards to add to their decks, and cull the ones that don't do them as well.  This is taking deck building games to a whole new level that I'm excited to try out.  Paizo seems to feel that they're going to have plenty of product, but I believe they're underestimating the demand.  Pick this one up early.

Warmachine: High Command (Hordes: High Command) - Privateer Press

 


Privateer Press tries its hand at deck building games with their High Command series, featuring both Warmachine and Hordes.  Players choose a faction, their warcasters, and a deck associated with the caster's abilities, and build their basic deck into more fearsome opposition by recruiting troops and jacks to go head to head with their opponents to try to control areas and score points.  It looks pretty well done, and feels like a personal game of Ascension that then goes and plays a game of war with the enemy.  This one will likely sell out early.

Space Cadets: Dice Duel - Stronghold Games

 


Space Cadets was a bit of a surprise hit from last year, and they look to build on that with Space Cadets: Dice Duel.  This stand alone game pits two teams of players against each other in a chaos of trying to control their own ships with real time dice rolling, and managing that into making successful attacks on their opponent's ship.  It looks hectic as anything, but large groups looking for ways to keep everybody engaged at once will likely be very interested in checking this one out.

Star Trek Attack Wing - Wizkids

 


Last year I took a look at Fantasy Flight's X Wing game, and completely dismissed it as I didn't believe that anybody would be interested in paying $40 for what they were offering out of the box, and then another $10 - $15 per ship.  I was completely wrong, and the game took off to much success.  This year, Wizkids is getting in on the action with their own Star Trek Attack Wing, another similar game to the dogfighting games, but with a new license.  Product is expected to be limited, and if you prefer Trek over Wars, you should get yourself over to the Wizkids booth pronto.

Pandemic: In the Lab - Zman Games



There's a lot of people excited about the second expansion to Pandemic.  In this one, you must take different steps to cure diseases, by collecting samples, testing them, and creating cures for them in a lab environment.  This goes beyond just turning in cards to find a cure, and it allows Pandemic to go to six players.  Many online reviewers are predicting a day one sell out, so if you want your copy, make sure to get it on Thursday morning.


Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport



We're not sure where this will be found in the convention, but we're confident that it will be there.  In this very anticipated expansion to last year's Lords of Waterdeep, players can explore two new areas, play as new lords, go on new quests, and add a sixth player.  There's no reason to think this will be especially limited, but it will be in demand at the con.  With no Wizards booth in the hall, it may take some searching to get, too, so be ready for a hunt.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Gencon 2013 - Hot Events


Gencon is known for having events that just cannot be missed.  After months of scouring over the event catalog, we've put together a list of the events that we think are going to be the ones that everybody will want to get into.  If there's anything that we missed, do not hesitate to let us know in the comments!

True Dungeon

 

This year is True Dungeon's 10th anniversary, and shows no signs of slowing down.  As one of the major reasons that attendees come to Gencon, True Dungeon invites players to enter a new realm where they figure out puzzles and do battle with monsters.  This year there will be two adventures running, a sort of part 1 and part 2 of the adventure, though it's completely optional to take on both.  The event runs all weekend, but tickets do sell out very quickly, although it's often possible to sneak in with generics ($44 worth). 

AEG Board Game Night Extravaganza



For the past several years, AEG has put on a big gaming party for its players where they sit everybody into an area and let you play their games with them in a small intimate environment.  They give out prizes, sit with people and chat about mechanics, and - oh yeah - give away loot boxes full of board games and promos.  This one is a lot harder to get into with generic tickets, but can be done for those who arrive early.  It's a lot of fun and a great chance to talk to AEG about their games.


AEG never lets slip what's in the box until the event has started.  The first year attendees received a copy of Nightfall, a copy of Myth Pantheons, and several Thunderstone and L5R promos.  Last year they received a Nightfall expansion, a gold foil copy of Smash Up exclusive to the event, L5R decks, and more promos.  It's anybody's guess what attendees will be receiving this year, but it's rumored to be "insane".

Hickman's Killer Breakfast

 


Hickman's Killer Breakfast is a Gencon tradition in which participants roll out of bed at 8am Saturday morning after a night of partying / drinking / gaming, and make their way to Ballroom 500 to attain level 1 characters and die horribly at the hands of Tracy Hickman, renown writer and GM.   This highly entertaining event is as interactive as you want it to be, you can choose to go on stage and suffer your fate, or just be a part of the audience and witness the hijinks ensue.  Everybody who goes to Gencon should attend this show at least once.

The Big Game

 


Mayfair Games is making an official Guinness World Record attempt at Gen Con 2013 with the largest game of Catan ever played.  Participants will receive a limited edition Catan resource deck, and wood pieces made in special colors just for this event.  Entry is $10, and there's still tickets available.  Signup begins at 5:30 on Friday night and the game will last 62 turns to make sure we can end sometime this year. 


HEX MMO Trading Card Game League



Cryptozoic, fresh off of their very successful Kickstarter campaign, will be presenting HEX to the public for the first time at Gen Con 2013.  Players can receive a wrist band which will allow them unlimited play in their LAN area where they can try out several pre-constructed decks and earn points to trade in for exclusive in-game rewards.  VG30 is a big believer in this project and is looking forward to getting our hands on it for the first time.

D&D Next Events

 


Last year, Wizards sent players running around the convention trying their games out to put together a set of dice that were being called "Drow Dice".  It was very hard to get a full set, requiring singing up for events well before anybody had an idea that they would be needed to get their goods, or standing in line for hours hoping that generic slots would open up.  This year they're going about it a little differently.  Wizards sold passes to all the events in one bundle (which are already well sold out), and then set everything else aside as generic tickets only.  So to get into one of these events, you're going to need generic tickets and to stand in line.  Hopefully this year they're more ready for the number of people who want to play, let alone the people who want the yet to be revealed dice sets, which only require one event to get.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Gen Con 2013 Preview - What it is and why you should be going


Gen Con 2013 is less than two weeks away, and it's a very exciting time for VG30.  As table top gamers, there is no other event that we look forward to more, and right now table top gaming is HUGE.  Last year's attendance was 41,000, more than a 12% increase in attendance from the year prior.  It is easily the largest gaming convention in the US, and it's just getting bigger and bigger. 

And bigger, and bigger, and bigger...

So what is it?

Gen Con is an annual four day convention in Indianapolis that primarily focuses on table top gaming, but you can find pretty much anything here from Angry Birds to Smash Bros Tournaments happening around the clock.  Catan, Dungeons and Dragons, or Magic: The Gathering, if it sits on top of a table, you can find people here who want to play it.  In fact, there's over 11,000 events that are taking place across the weekend.  

And... why do I care?

With some help from Kickstarter and Wil Wheaton's Table Top series, table top gaming is bigger than ever.  Even major department stores like Target are now carrying games from Mayfair and Steve Jackson Games.  Getting together with friends, sitting around a table, and having fun is the name of the game, and more and more people are entering the hobby every year.  Gen Con has been doing this for almost 50 years, this is where games are born and the public's chance to try them out before taking them back to their own tables.

Why go to Gen Con instead of say, Origins or Burning Man?

Gen Con is gaming Mecca.  There's lots of reasons for this, but the primary ones are that the convention was once in the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center & Arena, so we got to say we were going to MECCA and the name kinda stuck, but more importantly than that, it's truly were gamers come from across the world to play games, see the newest releases, and make new friends who share the same love and passions as you do.  Unless you've been to Spiel in Essen, Germany, there isn't another gaming convention that comes close.  If you're a table top gamer, you owe yourself a trip here.

Sounds great!  But what's there to actually do there?

If there's a game that you like to play, it's probably here, but you don't just want to go to a convention to do things that you can already do with friends at home.  You want to do cool things, like True Dungeon (www.truedungeon.com) or play in the Guinness Record breaking game of Catan (www.mayfairgames.com)  You'll want to wake up early for Hickman's Killer Breakfast, and stay up late for AEG Gaming night.  VG30 will be covering all of these events so you can see what they're like, but there's no end to what you can do at Gen Con.  It's a different experience for everyone, and it means something different to everyone.

We'll be posting several more articles in the next two weeks including what to bring, where to eat, and what the hotness of the convention will be, plus all of our onsite coverage so keep visiting and make sure to follow us on twitter @videogamingat30 and on facebook.com/videogamingat30.  Happy gaming!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Last of Us - Review


In growing older, I've come to appreciate the father / daughter bond that forges over time.  While I don't understand the full complexities of it just yet, I do recognize that there's something very special and unique about it.  The Last of Us explores this bond in a post zombie apocalypse, because when's better to establish a relationship?

Quality Time
You play the game as Joel, a once regular guy who had lost everything to an infected outbreak 20 years prior. Through a deal for survival, he must escort a teenage girl named Ellen Paige Ellie to a renegade group's drop off point for unknown reasons.  Naturally, things don't go as planned, and we bear witness to the relationship between the two grow and change over time.

Gameplay is essentially a third person action title that encourages sneaking and tactics versus direct confrontation.  There's lots of cover and the game provides ample bottles and bricks to use as distractions and stuns to get through nearly everything quietly.  Yes, you can fight your way through the entire game, but you'll often find yourself with minimal resources for doing so.

Inventory control is important, and only allows you instant access to a few items at the same time.  Over the course of scavenging,  you'll find new weapons and a variety of objects in which you can make med kits, Molotov cocktails, shivs, and a few other useful things that make getting through a little easier.  Other upgrades you find allow you to modify weapons, inventory slots, and your own abilities like hearing and health.

So I can kill somebody with my bare hands, but bricks only stun people?  Got it.

Dealing with enemies is the most emphasized aspect in the game.  Moving from area to area, players will find themselves interacting with other factions in the game world including infected and other groups of survivalists.  Typically "interacting with" is framed as "killing", but there are parts that you can easily sneak by.  Where it gets disappointing is that with the rare exception these encounters are basically the same thing over and over again, just in a slightly different environment.  A store front with toppled over shelves instead of a ransacked house or a dilapidated sewer.  Too soon does the game become "Crouch and listen, position yourself to sneak up on somebody, take them down with a choke hold, move on."

Most games look to place the player as the hero, or at least central character of the story.  To prove this point, think about how you talk about playing a game.  "I can't make this jump", not "Mario can't make this jump".  Games fulfill an escape where the player is the star, the one who gets to save the princess, or defeat the alien invaders.  This is where Last of Us fails.  Joel takes actions and acts in ways that a normal person would not.  There is a very good reason for this, it's because Joel has lived through a 20 year span of time doing whatever he had to do to survive.  The problem is that this is not expressed enough to the player.  The player never gets that connection with the character to make them understand why he does the things that he does throughout the game, specifically at the end.  Because of this, it is not your story, it is not you making the jump.  It's Joel's story, and he acts this way without anything that you can do about it, you have to do it Joel's way.  Without the sympathy and understanding that is associated with it, it becomes meaningless.

That's my problem with the game, and it took me weeks to put my finger on it.  Because the player cannot possibly understand the emotions and reason of thinking that is behind Joel's story,  the key relationships that are forged throughout the game become meaningless. Major characters die and naught a tear is shed for them. 

Concept Art of things that DON'T happen during the game
The Last of Us, at it's heart, is trying to tell the story of a what a father and daughter have to do to get through a terrible tragedy and become closer for doing so.  They work together and overcome obstacles, people that would stop them, and nightmares that haunt them.  The game is about the journey from start to finish, but there's large chunks of road missing, and the bridges they use to gap the story and emotions together are flimsy at best.  But they do make it across, and the package as a whole has some pretty great moments.  This is definitely worth your time, but you may find yourself to be an outsider watching the events unfold instead of being a part of it yourself