Sunday, 30 June 2013

Tabletop gaming podcasts I currently recommend when asked

One of the questions I see asked over and over again on social media is: "What's a good gaming podcast I can check out?" This was a question that I was asking myself around a year ago. Yep, only about a year ago. For whatever reason I just didn't get into podcasts until mid 2012. Now I've had friends, especially +Sean Stephens, who've been telling me I've been missing out for years. Heck Sean still thinks I should do my own podcast.

Well that was over a year ago now. Now I'm a huge fan of podcasts, specifically tabletop gaming podcasts. I listen to them all the time, in the van when driving around town, on trips out of town, while working on the computer at home, when outside doing yard work, etc. I now listen to podcasts a lot. Just yesterday I finally caught up. I had finally listened to all of the episodes of all of the shows I was currently subscribed to. Yet I still felt like listening so I went looking for more. That's what reminded me of that original question: "What's a good gaming podcast I can check out?"

I thought this would make an excellent topic for the Windsor Gaming Resource. So here I am. Below I'm going to provide a list of some of my current favourite hobby gaming podcasts. All of these are currently active and still producing content as of the time this was written. In addition to this list I encourage you to check out my Tabletop Gaming Podcast community on G+ where I have a growing list of every single Tabletop Gaming Podcast out there and provide a place when you can interact with show listeners and producers.

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff is still a pretty new podcast but is quickly becoming a fan favourite in the hobby gaming community. It features +Kenneth Hite and +Robin Laws and, well, they talk about stuff. This stuff includes movies, books, RPGs, game design, pop culture, food, time travel and cultists. Yes it's quite a broad range but almost all of it is content you can apply to your games in some way. Both Ken and Robin are extremely open and frank during the show. It almost seems like you are sitting with them at the local pub while they chat over vodka and tonics.

The Sharkbone Podcast is currently one of my favourites. This round table podcast is produced by +Devon Kelley and +Jarvis Mishler. The show is broken into two parts. In GM's Reef the group takes a movie they have all watched and discusses how they can mine it for RPG ideas. The thing is that they don't just look at the plot and talk about how that would make for a cool game, they actually look at all aspects of a film for concepts. The second part of the show, Great White, is more of a traditional RPG podcast segment where they discuss a mechanic or a theme and how to make that a cooler part of your game. This topic usually ties in with the movie some how.

Play on Target is another new podcast, newer even then Ken & Robin. It was put together by a group of guys over at and stars +Samuel Dillon+Lowell Francis, Andrew Goenner and +Brian Cooksey. This is a pretty typical round table RPG podcast where the group picks a topic and they basically just sit around and talk about it for about an hour. The thing with this podcast is that these folk know their stuff. They are very active users on RPGgeek that have been involved with the community for a very long time. Plus I have to mention them, they mentioned my RPG on their show :D

Here's a great board gaming podcast: The Dice Tower. Hosted by +Tom Vasel and +Eric Summerer, the Dice Tower is the one podcast you really don't want to miss if you are into board games. Tom and Eric talk about what's new, what's coming soon, they host a Q&A with their fans, host in depth reviews and conduct engaging interviews. The dice tower is the most popular board game podcast for a reason. Along with The Dice Tower, check out The Dice Tower Network.  Under the DTN banner you will find the excellent Ludology that talks about game mechanics, On Board Games which rivals The Dice Tower itself for content, The Secret Cabal which is a mix of all tabletop hobby games and has some of the most detailed reviews I've ever heard, The D6 Generation - a general tabletop podcast that would be on this list if it wasn't regularly well over two hours long,

I learned about Across A Table Madly when +Aaron R saw me talking about podcasts on G+ and asked: "Hey do you listen to our show, what do you think?" and I realized that I did not currently subscribe. So I checked the show out, found I really dug it and have been a subscriber since. Besides Aaron the show also features +Samuel Dillon, Brittani-Pearl, and +Kato Katonian. Similar to Play on Target, which Samuel is also in, this is a very solid round table show. What impressed me the most about this one was their willingness to take on hard topics and discuss them in a very calm and reasonable manner.

The Nerdherders is also relatively new, only in episode 24 right now. It stars Ian Clark, David Farr and Matt Alix. This is a general geek show that talks about all kinds of things. Comics, movies, TV and gaming. All of the hosts are into RPGs, board games, miniature games and video games. This is a great podcast for anyone into multiple facets of the gaming hobby. Sure there may have been parts of some episodes that I've skipped over as they were talking about some geerkery I wasn't into but there hasn't been an episode yet where I didn't hear something I wanted to know about.

I've been a fan of +Pete Figtree's Ruthless Diastema podcast right from the start. Pete is a teacher and much of what Pete talks about is using gaming in education. He talks about using both board games and RPGs in the classroom and at home. What has always blown me away about Pete is his ability to stuff a ton of great info into a short amount of time. Most of his episodes are under ten minutes in length  Recently Pete provided some of the best on the spot Origins coverage I've heard. Pete also recently hooked up with +Alex Mayo and the Geeky & Genki network. This network hosts many other great shows like The Gamecast and +Ryan Shelton's short but very informative Roll For News.

Despite the fact that 2 GMs 1 Mic has a very well deserved explicit rating I keep coming back. GMs +Joseph Wolz and +Nicky Helmkamp have a very open and frank discussion about RPGs. What they are playing, what's currently hot, what they love and what they hate. Here's one show not afraid to point out things they don't like, which is a refreshing change at times. What I enjoy most about this show is that Joe and Nicky are into a lot of newer indie games I've never heard of and I find the show a great source for hearing about new games. Plus they have a House Dragon.

So there you have a peek into the podcasts I'm currently listening to on a regular basis. Note this list only scratches the surface and my tastes change week to week depending on the mood and the games I'm currently playing. Please don't be offended if I didn't mention your show or the one you like to listen to the most, there's just no way I could list every show I dig. Give me a shout in the comments if you have a show you really dig that isn't listed here and maybe I will toss up an "Even more good gaming podcasts I should check out" post some time in the future.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Huge Pathfinder sale at DriveThruRPG 40% off 1000s of PDFs

Quick special announcement. This week and this week only all Pathfinder stuff is on sale 40% off at DriveThruRPG! That's over 1000 PDFs on sale!

If you follow this link, you actually support the Windsor Gaming Resource as well as getting a great deal on Pathfinder stuff:

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Gaming in Windsor in July

July 6th Cards & Comics at Hugin & Munin

July 6th we head over to long time FLGS Hugin & Munin for a night of cards and caffeine. The event will run from 5pm until 11pm. Through the entirety of the event all Tassimo coffee will be half off.

Now I know the event is called Cards & Coffee but you don't have to stick to card games. Feel free to bring and play what you want. In the past we've had a majority of card games but also some other games. This is an all ages event so feel free to bring some young gamers out as well.

Hugin & Munin is located at 1664 Tecumseh RD. E. in Windsor Ontario. Parking in back or on side roads and free out front after 6pm.

July 12th Games & Grub at the Green Bean Downtown 

The Green Bean on the West End by the University has proven to be our most popular gaming venue. Unfortunately due to relying on the University for business they close early on Fridays for the Summer. This summer is a bit different though as the Green Bean has just opened up a new 2nd location!

The new Green Bean is located right Downtown Windsor, in the 300 block of Ouelette in the new Windsor Star Building, which used to be the Palace Theater. The actual address is 300 Ouellette Ave - 3rd floor.

You can expect the same great food and atmosphere we grew to love at the West end location just with a new view. There's no theme for this event, just bring whatever you feel like playing. If you don't have very many games don't worry the regulars always bring lots of great stuff and all of us are willing to teach the games we bring. 

This all ages event runs from 6pm until 11pm on Friday July the 12th.

July 20th Bits & Boards @ Brimstone

We just wrapped up a great Brimstone event last night at Windsor's newest FLGS. Brimstone has a huge gaming area with tons of tables, chairs and great lighting. I'm told by the owner Sean that we could fit 60 of us in there. 

This is another open, themeless gaming event. Just a bunch of us getting together to play some games. Magic the Gathering and Warhammer are popular at Brimstone along with the usual mix of card and board games

You can find Brimstone at 3298 Walker Rd. Now that the construction has moved to the other side of Walker it's a bit easier to get to Brimstone. Parking is available on the south side of the building and on the street around back. This is another all ages event and it runs from 6pm until Midnight on Saturday July the 20th.

July 25th Boardgames Are Really Fun at Villains

Villians Beastro is one of the coolest bars to open here in Windsor. The theme is movie and TV Villains throughout the ages. The places is set up like a secret lair. What a perfect place for some gaming. 

B.A.R.F. events are themed events and we try to bring games that fit the theme. The theme for July is The Need for Speed. We will be looking for quick games or games with a racing theme. I'm looking forward to seeing Formula D, Thunder Road and maybe even Beat the Clock. Note, we're not going to bash you for not sticking to the theme, if you have a game you really want to play, feel free to bring it.

The event starts at 6 pm on July 25th and goes until close. Most gamers usually pack it in around midnight though as the place starts to fill with the downtown drinking crowd at about that time. Note also that since our event is on a Thursday that it's also SWAMP night and Steam Whistle beer and all Paninis are on sale.

Note this is not an all ages venue: Villains is a bar and serves alcohol so no kids for this one. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Please keep an eye open for this stolen Warmachine army

Reposting this from +Dave Garbe, awesome Wargramming Tradecraft blog.

Really sad, and even worse that it happened locally. I can only assume that whoever took the case didn't know what was in it. I really hate to think that this could have been another local gamer.

Keep your eyes open at events, eBay, Kijiji etc.

Text of Dave's original post:

Today, one of the guys at our local club in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (border city across from Detroit, Michigan, USA) had his car broken into and his army case was stolen.

The contents were a Warmachine Cryx army (photo below) and any details you might have or publicity you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

As always my email is NPlusPlus [AT] WargamingTradecraft [DOT] com

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

My history with the Star Trek RPG by FASA

My recent post about the Star Trek Deck Building Game combined with a post by +David Lowry over on Google Plus had me thinking about Star Trek The Role Playing Game by FASA. David's post in particular had me telling the story of how I wanted to play this game for years and finally got to last year. After completing my reply I thought it would make for a good post for the WGR. So here I am.

The history

Back when I first got into hobby gaming and roleplaying games, the Dragon Lady (woman who owned the FLGS: Dragon's Den), told me I should check out the local University club. I was only 12 at the time but they didn't have any requirement that you had to be a University member. It was called the Windsor Gaming Society and is probably the name I would have used for my own gaming organization if it weren't already taken.

So I went. I had never played a game with anyone but my cousin at that time and I fell in love with playing with new people and trying all manner of games. I tried D&D for the first time and hated it. I played Cyberpunk. I checked out Chill. I got to be the Computer in Paranoia, and more. But there was one game from those days that always stood out; the weekly Star Trek game.

The Star Trek game started at 6:00 Pm every Saturday. The GMs (yes there was more than one) started early though. See it was in a student lounge and they would re-arrange all the furniture. In the middle of the room they rolled out a giant chalk board. That was set up as the main view screen with all the lights and indicators drawn in before the game started. As the game was played the GMs would draw what the characters could see on this board.

 On one side of the board was The Away Team table: a board room table used by players on an away mission. On the bridge side they set up all the chairs so that it was in the same pattern as the bridge. With the biggest chair in the lounge going to the Captain. Every session started with a boom box playing the opening theme. There were always two GMs so that some players could beam down to whatever planet/station/ship was part of the story this week and the others could stay on the bridge and both groups could play without having to wait for the other. The GMs would meet up now and then and make sure everything stayed on the same page.

It was a pure joy to watch. I would sit there for 6 hours just watching these cats play Star Trek. I would try to split my attention between the two sides. I would try to follow the plot and imagine what I would do if I was playing. Sadly I wasn't playing though. Sadly they didn't want a kid playing with them. Something to this day I resent (and one of the main reasons most WGR events are all ages).

Fast forward to now

So years went by with me always thinking back to that awesome Star Trek game that those guys at The Club used to play. Growing up gaming I always kept my eyes open for FASA Star Trek but the local shops never had it. They've always been fairly small with a selection to match (we are truly blessed with shops like Hugin & Munin now that have shelves of rpgs). Years went by and while I didn't forget about FASA Star Trek it went to the back of my mind.

Last year I found a copy of the game on eBay for like $20 unpunched! so I jumped at it. After getting it I devoured the rules finishing them in one night. I found a very solid sounding D100 based Sci-Fi RPG. There was a lifepath system similar in ways to Traveler combined with a very skill heavy roll under percentile game and a action point based combat system that still to this day makes me wonder if the designers of X-Com played FASA Trek.

So now that I had the game I had to run it. I invited most of my old original gaming group to come try the game out as many of them were also 'those kids' back in the Windsor Gaming Society days and also missed out on the game as I did. In addition I invited a small group of gamers I've gotten to know through the WGR that I thought would dig this. One of my original group actually drove 4 hours to play in this game. 

It was fantastic. It was probably the most fun and memorable RPG experiences I've had in my adult life. Both new friends and old got right into it. See thing thing about a Star Trek RPG is that everyone knows Trek. We all know the tropes. We all know the Trekspeak. We all know the sounds and what to expect. It's got to be one of the easiest games to roleplay in that I own.

Now saying that, we did run into a few rules issues, so once done I jumped on The Geek and started reading. It seems that every problem we had was fixed in the 2nd edition. So I was back on eBay and ended up buying the Deluxe boxed set. The one with the Star Trek III Tactical Combat simulator included. I devoured that pretty much as quick as the first box. Sadly though I haven't been able to get the old group back together again for another game, but man did we have fun last time.

I still look forward to running a short campaign in FASA Star Trek, some day. I still can't believe it took me almost 30 years to try out this truly great and classic system.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Star Trek Deck Building Game - well worth the price

Why review this after one play?

Now I don't normally toss a review of a game up after only one play. There are often rules that are missed, you spend half the game looking stuff up and the game play takes twice as long due to everyone trying to figure it out. I'm making an exception for this one though. The reason why is that this game is available dirt cheap right now and that deal may not last.

In Windsor you can pick up any of the three versions of this game (The Original Series, The Next Generation or The Next Generation Next Phase which is the one pictured), at either of the Entertainment Deals locations in the city. A single box costs $17 or you can pick up two at once for $30. The MSRP is $40 so this is more than half off. For people not in Windsor you should be able to find these at this price at liquidation outlets, half price books and other deal centers.

My thoughts on the Star Trek Deck Builder after one play:

The version of the game I picked up is the one in the picture up top there. It's the Next Generation, Next Phase edition. From what I can tell online all of the games are compatible but are stand alone as well.

The rules are some of the worst I've read so I'm not even sure we played right. The set comes with a bunch of different cards with different colours on them. They also come in a box that wins the "the most wasted space possible" award. I'm assuming this was done so that you could fit any and all expansions released into one box, but man I've never seen so much extra space in one box.

Once ready to play you pick a mission type, which determines which cards go into which decks and which cards are set aside. Some cards are common no matter what mission you are playing. That's right you don't use all the cards every game, you swap out what cards you use based on what scenario you want to play. It took a bit to figure out what was what but I think we got it right in the end. We played the standard Exploration II scenario which is PvP. There's also a Borg scenario included that is Co-op and a Romulan unification one that is a team game. The other versions of the game come with different scenarios like the Klingon Civil war and more.

Like every deck builder you get the same 10 cards to start. You use those to buy better cards from the starbase which has 9 random cards up at all times. This is all standard deck builder stuff, with ways to buy new cards, change what cards are up etc. Each card has a lot of stuff on it though. It's not nearly as simple as most deck builders with some cards having a paragraph of special rules. You really have to read them all and that takes a long time the first time through.

The really cool bit is that added to this is a space deck. Each turn you can explore this. In it are ships, missions and events. Ships you have to fight. Events effect everyone and in the game we played often meant we all fought each other in a war, and missions give you tasks to complete. By 'beating' these things you get victory points that range from 25 to 100. You need 400 points to win.

The whole mission thing reminds me of the awesome old decipher CCG. You get things like you need a ship with speed 3 and 2 characters with diplomacy of at least 1. Or you need an attack value of 6 or more on your starship. If you beat the mission you get some kind of bonus. Some of the missions also do horrible things if you fail. Here everything really feels like Trek even referencing specific story arcs. The first time someone found Lor and failed to impress him and he summoned the Crystaline Entity which destroyed the players flagship it was epic.

The ship combat is pretty simple, you add up the stats on the bottom of all your cards and add that to the stats on your flagship. Ships with the highest speed attack first and do damage equal to their attack value. Shields soak some of this. When facing a ship from the space deck you can choose to 'diplomacy' it instead (yeah that's what they call it in the rules, you diplomacy a ship). If you are fast enough and your crew have high enough diplomacy you can take the ship. Then you can either just cash it in for points or actually make it your new flagship.

We tried the game with four players none of who had ever even seen the game before I cracked it open. All of us have had experience with other Deck Builders though. The game took a bit under two hours. We all agreed it would be much much quicker the next time around. We also all agreed we really wanted to try it again with a different scenario so that's one good thing for the game.

Overall impressions:

I'm not disappointed at all with this purchase especially at the price I found it for. I will be heading back out to one of the Entertainment Deals locations sometime soon to see if I can pick up the other two boxed sets to add to the options in the game. It's not the best deck builder I've played but it's good and the Star Trek theme is done well  and really does add to the fun. I've already received facebook messages from a couple of the players who played last night noting that they want to play again or are picking up their own copies of the game.

An update - two more plays, one time co-op

I drew a hand of 5 Borg cards and got assimilated :( 
Well I broke this one out again tonight. My opinion on the standard Exploration mode of play hasn't really changed. It's a bit slow, there's a lot to read but the theme is fun. In addition to trying that again we tried out the co-op vs. the Borg version. Now that was fun! It was much more intense than the core game. The game played much quicker. The fact each player's ship has an ability that can help the other players really has you working as a team. Characters like Data who are only so-so in the regular game really shine in the co-op game. This changed this game from a, well worth the cheap price to worth it at full price to me. It really was fun, one of the best co-op games I've played. It didn't have the 'multiplayer solitaire' feel that I find Pandemic and Forbidden Island often have.

So yeah if you dig Star Trek and like co-op games I can really recommend this one. In addition to a great co-op game you also get an okay PvP game.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

I've taken the Free RPG Day $5 Pledge, how about you?

The 15th of June is Free RPG day! This means you get to head to your FLGS and pick up some awesome free RPG stuff. From full games to starter rules, from dice towers to dice themselves. Locally we've got some great events going on like a World Wide Dungeons and Dragons Game Day adventure. If you do head out this year I ask you to make the $5 pledge! 

Support your store. Don't just go in and grab some free stuff and skate. Buy something. The FLGS didn't get this stuff for free, they had to pay for it and see it as an investment in you. They are trying to get you to try something new and then once you are hooked support them while investing in your new game. So show some love and spend at least $5 at your FLGS this Free RPG day!

Logo and the $5 Pledge concept was started by The Geek Life Project blog