Justus Productions

21 Starport Places

21 Starport Places
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

21 Starport Places is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

One way to get a real good feel for a science fiction setting is getting to know places of business in the setting.  It not only gives you a small window into the world, but it also gives you ideas on what is important to the creators, what kind of people a player would meet, and what kind of routine encounters they may have.  This is the attraction to a supplement like 21 Starport Places.

From page #4:
“This book presents 21 locations found in starports, both orbital ports and downports.”

The 21 locations listed in 21 Starport Places are quite varied.  They range from official locations like the Visa Office or the Captain’s Guildhouse found on various worlds to specialty locations like Big Al’s Biscuits or Clarkson Repair Services.  These could be single locations like The Chrome Shop of Selu Station (Sequoyah), the Lucky Horeshoe Casino on Bastiat Orbital in the Bastiat system (Franklin), or the Plasma Nightclub in the Hottinger system (Hub).  They also can be franchised locations like Loyal Order of the Mystic Platypus System Outreach Office, which you can find in a variety of starports.

I especially liked Big Al’s Biscuits as it really grounds the setting into something we can relate to.  I like that he placed something traditionally Southern in a sci-fi setting.  So many sci-fi settings want to inject foreign and exotic influences into their setting, completely ignoring American subculture influences.

Like many supplements of this nature, this one has locations that players can find almost anywhere as well as locations they have to find to experience.  Sometimes it is frustrating to always resort to the standard bar location for characters to meet up or rendezvous with NPCs.  It’s great to have somewhere else to go.  Also, a GM can use these locations specifically for kicking off points or random encounters as well.

Not only do these locations give somewhere to be but it also gives you a window into the culture, factions and people the players will be dealing with on these various planets or stations.  The GM can combine the information from the various Sector supplements in the Gypsy Knight’s line to create interesting encounters at these locations.

From page # 4:
“Each location is detailed with a description, a layout of the location, sample NPCs which can be found there and possible adventure hooks concerning the location.”

Each entry has several things included with it.  First and foremost is an extensive description of what the location is.  Origins, functions and general ideas on how to use the location in your game are contained in these paragraphs.  Most are no more than a page and a half, giving you just enough to work with but not too much to restrict a GM in any fashion (much in the same manner as any other Gypsy Knight product). After the description is a very detailed map of the location, with descriptions to each room, etc.  I like the quality of the room maps but I think perhaps a PDF should be included with the maps set to 1” scale, making them usable with standard RPG miniatures.

Also included in each entry is at least one NPC fully stat’ed out.  Usually these NPCs are the owner or proprietor of the location but sometimes they are something else.  The NPC is fully fleshed out with an engaging background that gives you a solid grasp of where the NPC comes from and what motivates him or her.

In conclusion, this is a handy and imaginative expansion to the Gypsy Knight line.  Clement sector has a lot of potential and great ideas and this expands on that, but this also can be used in any Traveller or sci-fi setting, if the Clement sector is not your cup of tea.  With a little adjustment, these locations could be very useful elsewhere.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG Supplement“21 Starport Places” check them out at their website http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com.

Codex Rating: 16

Product Summary

21 Starport Places
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Supplement
Authors: John Watts and Tony Hicks
Artists: Steve Attwood, Stephen Johnson, Bradley Warnes, John Watts, Fotolia: Luca Oleastri,  James Steidl
Editor: Curtis Rickman
Playtesters: Wendy Watts, Alan Mullican, Steve Johnson, Vaughn Wright, Dave Bell, Tony Hicks, Randy Sutton, Greg Seaborn, and Mike Nixon
Number of Pages: 79
Game Components Included: One PDF
Game Components Not Included: Core Traveller Rules, Clement Sector supplement
Retail Price: $8.99 US for PDF; $19.99 for Softback.
Website: www.gypsyknightsgames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

RavenCon 2014 – A follow up

This is a follow up to RavenCon 2014 – Virginia sci-fi and gaming

I have received enough feedback from my RavenCon review that I felt that a follow up was needed.  From this feedback, I think there are some beneficial lessons that can help with convention management, gaming coordinating, as well as one’s convention experience.  Getting the full perspective of a con is not always easy.  I sometimes find more insight after the con.  Since RavenCon, I have spoken with a senior convention staff member as well as a game designer/publisher that attended.  Their feedback to my first review is what lead me to this  follow up.  This is not intended to be a retraction or an “apology.” I stand by what I wrote in my initial review. I just truly feel that after the feedback I received that there is more of a tale to tell about RavenCon.

One challenge every con manager faces is space management.  It’s rare that a convention finds the perfect space for its event.  As a con manager, you are balancing the cost of  the space with the ambiguous projections of what you think your con will make that coming year.  Attendance is a big part of space management.  Traffic flows, event space allocation and vendor/fan table placement are all effected by attendance projections.  Past attendance is the number one factor in those projections but other factors can affect it as well – popularity of your guests, economy, hotel room costs, etc.

I called RavenCon a small con, and from a gamer’s perspective, I think it still can be considered that.  However, now that the official numbers have been released, I have to amend that statement.  RavenCon had 1100 people in attendance and that is by no means a small con.  With respect to cons of its nature, this would rank up there in the medium to large sized event.  I was very surprised at these numbers.  The space was well managed from this perspective, so much so that it disguised the numbers well.  The hotel they have has a great convention space.  It has what I would call a little “character” and it has a lot of small, medium and large rooms spread out over 2 main floors.  This kind of con space can easily disguise attendance numbers.

A good con space like this can also be a double edged sword.  Managing and judging traffic flow is a huge part of con management. When you are trying to please various vendors, exhibitors, demo-teams, fan groups and authors, it can be a frustrating thing.  As you will see in my later comments, the way gaming was placed caused some displeasure to one particular game designer.  In all the above examples, everyone wants visibility; everyone wants to be seen in the flow of traffic.  Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t please everyone.  Also, unfortunately, when your con has other priorities and areas of focus, peripheral items like gaming get left in the dark.

As I said in my previous review, there are several types of gaming events that a gaming coordinator has to juggle.  You have games that need preregistration, and games that don’t; games that have limited seating and games that can manage their seating on their own.  One of the types that I deal with are what I would call “demo tables.”  They are open gaming tables set up by a game publisher or designer, and all they want is to be in the middle of the traffic flow to maximize their player potential.  They don’t need a schedule but it would be nice if they have some kind of visibility on the schedule.  They manage their player seats and schedule, unless they want to set aside special time for tournaments.  Tournaments need to be scheduled and usually have a limited amount of seats. With the advent of Kickstarter, these types of gaming events are more and more common.  Kickstarter  has made it easier for small designers to get their ideas to production, so more of more of these designers are showing up at small to medium sized gaming cons.

The mistake that some sci-fi cons make is treating all gaming the same.  They assume, for example, that demo tables will do well if they are stuck in the same room as other gaming.  And depending on the product, sometimes that may be true.  However, in most cases, simple demo tables do better if they are out in the middle of the traffic. For a sci-fi con, a place somewhere between the gamers and non-gamers would be ideal.  In many cases, non-gamers will still sit down for a 30 minute to hour demo.  If you tuck these guys away with the other gamers, you re limiting their exposure and also making a statement that gamers are an area of interest that you want contained in their own little corner.  That’s not very welcoming to some gamers.

Unfortunately, this game designer/publisher that I talked to had that experience at RavenCon.  He felt tucked away in a corner and under-exposed for what he wanted to show off.  As much as gamers like a room to themselves, game designer and publishers like exposure to a wider audience.  There are gamers that just want to be left alone but there are also gamers that like to cross over into mainstream fans.  There are games that primarily appeal to gamers but there are also games that are “gateway” games, that most mainstream fans would get into.  A good coordinator would know how to balance those in the space they have.

However, this does go back to the particular “character” of the RavenCon space.  Traffic flow is harder to predict in a split level convention space.  However, to be honest, there were places that could be used for open demo space that was more visible  than the gaming room itself.  It has taken me a while to discern between the various game and gamer types and a lot of trial and error.  I left a few publishers and designers unhappy because I misplaced them or they simply did not get the traffic they wanted.  It’s not an exact science.  It’s more an instinct thing, and a gaming coordinator has to make an effort to get to know his or her game masters to get a good sense of things.

With numbers like RavenCon is getting, it can only get better.  One of the areas that has a lot of potential is gaming.  RavenCon can easily reach 1500 through gaming alone.  However, without proper management, that potential can not be properly tapped and you run the risk of alienating a lot of potential gaming attendees.  Word spreads fast among gamers if a con is not friendly to gamers.  If that word is negative, gaming at your con can stagnate.  I have seen it happen.

RavenCon 2014 – Virginia sci-fi and gaming

Day 1 – Friday

The journey from my home near Charlotte, NC to Richmond, Va is not a short one but I have been wanting to check out a con for years called RavenCon. It is run by a good group of people, some of which I know from my days of running sci-fi cons. My kids like to dress up and play around with other kids that like sci-fi, so I like to go to these on occasion. I know going in that the gaming is not the focus at these cons, but I have at least a minimum expectation that there is some and it might be reasonably organized.

Once I knew that I could commit to the con, I made my reservations and sent in my game proposals two months before the con.  That’s perhaps a little last minute for some but two months out from the cons I am involved with is still early enough to get on the schedule and have enough visibility to get some players. The game coordinators were very good about communicating things to me and kept me in the loop when things changed. I was reasonably encouraged by that.

However, I never really got any notice that there was some kind of online preregistration, no notice that I had any players signed up or interest in my games. I wasn’t overly disappointed by that, but it set an expectation that they would at least have on-site sign up. I know they had Pathfinder Society on the schedule, which relies 100% on online registration and if I had thought of it at the time, I would have looked for the schedule on Warhorn, but I didn’t until later.

It took a little longer than expected to get there, but we got there. There were more stops along the way than we had planned but we felt we could at least get there before my first game at 8 pm. I had set us up as press for The Gamer’s Codex so I had hoped finding my badges would be easy. It only took going to three different locations but I was able to find them.  Because I cross over from Press to Gaming, it is easy to imagine that they could have been in one of any place they sent me to.  So I don’t fault them on this one. It’s my fault. I made it complicated.

After we settled in, I gathered my gaming stuff and headed down to run my first session –Three Kings adventure in Realms of Cthulhu/Savage Worlds/Achtung! Cthulhu. You can see my second look on this adventure here, where I document my journey in making this adventure a con game. I was really looking forward to running this adventure one more time. (I had run it for my home group as well as at MACE West already.) I had made some significant changes to how I ran the game.  I was really wanting to try out those new changes.  This perhaps is one of the reasons why the sting was so strong when I made it to the gaming table and saw what they had.

I had already met one of the gaming coordinators, Libbie Miller, on my search for my badge. She seemed like a nice person.  She had one or two other people helping her, but I did not catch their names.  I never met the other coordinator, Shadow Harmon, who apparently does both RavenCon and MarsCon. It seemed like they had their stuff together. They had 5 tables of PFS that were always busy and full. That is no surprise as PFS is the new RPGA and they are hitting the industry by storm. You cannot lose with Pathfinder Society right now. They had 5 or 6 tables for other RPGs, some of which were games run by this RPG group called MAGMA – Mid Atlantic Gaming Mavens Alliance.  My table was among those.  There were also 5 or 6 tables for board games and minis.  Apparently there was also a Magic Tournament planned but I never really got a chance to look into it.

As it turns out, they had no on-site sign up of any kind.  I did not have any players waiting for me. This was somewhat disconcerting but I was really going to try to make the best of it.  I met a guy, Tom, that was very interested in my game but I needed a minimum of four to play.  Tom said he had some friends coming that would be interested.  However, it would probably work better for them on Saturday. I had a session of something else Saturday but I was willing to run this instead.  I resolved that if I did not get any players Friday night, I would connect up with Tom and his friends to run it on Saturday.

Thirty minutes into it, it did not look like I was going to get any players. It seemed that all had settled down into their own games – primarily PFS or MAGMA games.  So I packed up.

This is something that may be a pet peeve of mine or it may be that I was disgruntled because everyone else had no problem getting players.  However, this is not the way I would do it. In my 15 years of running gaming for 2 or 3 cons per year, I never want any of my GMs to be forced to sit at their tables and beg for players.  I strive to make sure that all GMs have an equal chance to obtain players.  This includes online and onsite registration.  I finally looked on Warhorn for a RavenCon site, and in fact their was one.  It only listed the PFS and MAGMA games. So they had online registration for some of their games but not all. That bugged me a little.

I would imagine that perhaps RavenCon gaming has survived using this “ad-hoc” model for a while, with little to no problems.  This is probably the first year that they had to worry about something else other than that model.  Perhaps because gaming was not a huge focus in the past, they really did not have a need for more organization. Maybe this was the first time they had a significant PFS presence, so they let them handle it on their own. Additionally, perhaps the PFS folks worked with the MAGMA gamers to create their own schedule.  Unfortunately, this ended up leaving me and a few other games in the dark.  We were denied the visibility and exposure that the other games got. This is what I believe is really at the core of what a gaming coordinator should do.

In my experienced but humble view, a gaming coordinator needs to make sure everyone knows what gaming is available and give every gaming event the same preregistration and onsite registration opportunities.  The fact that a couple of groups got together and did it on their own should show the coordinator that there is a need.  At the very least, the coordinator could have connected me up with the MAGMA people to get on their schedule.

Of course, gaming is my bread and butter and coordinating gaming at cons is what I do, so I may be a little more critical than most. I do not want to take away from what they had there. They had just enough organization to get people to their tables and know when they were running, which is more than I can say for other cons.  The main gaming room they were given was of moderate size.  There apparently was another room for the Magic tournament but I never saw a lot of activity in that room.  For what they had, they definitely made the best of it. They were well supported by local game stores including The Dragon’s Den, and they had a good variety between RPGs, board games and minis. The PFS set up was top notch and the Venture Captain had a good line up of games.  Friday night, the room was about two-thirds full with all varieties of games running.

My understanding is that they will be expanding gaming to other rooms and will have way more gaming next year.  If they do, they need to coordinate more.  First, a comprehensive online schedule is needed.  Some games don’t need preregistration but still need the visibility. I place all games on my schedule whether they need preregistration or not, so people know what is going on.  If Warhorn is the only option for them, I suggest that the coordinator take ownership of that and work with the various groups to make sure there is a comprehensive schedule online.  A good online schedule can drive your preregistration rate up easily.

Secondly, some kind of onsite registration is needed.  To their credit, they had nice schedule posters on the walls for each day and changes were made as time went on directly to those posters.  This can be expanded upon.  With a dedicated gaming coordinator and a few volunteers, an on-site registration can be set up.  It could be as simple as a couple of computers running Warhorn but there still needs to be a coordinator for pick-up games, games that might want to move or change time slots or other issues.

There are a wide variety of games that a coordinator has to deal with.  Some don’t need preregistration and work best with the ad-hoc/pick-up model.  Others have limited seating and need some kind of registration system in place.  Others are handled by sub-coordinators like tournaments and other special events.  A good coordinator can cater to all these various types of games with a comprehensive schedule that a player can understand.

With a little more coordination, this could be a very good con for gamers. It is right on the verge of having a very good gaming track and a little more effort needs to be put in or the growth could become a curse rather than the blessing they were hoping for.  As I have said, it is not the con’s focus but it is slowly becoming a significant part of it.  The gamers were very passionate and dedicated and were also very friendly and welcoming.  This gave me hope that there is a potential for more on Saturday.

That evening, I hung out with my family for a time, dropped into a Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD discussion (which was a blast) and then roamed around with a few people I knew for a little while to socialize.  I got the sour taste out of my mouth from the initial gaming experience fairly early and enjoyed the rest of the night.

Day 2 – Saturday

My game the night before was a wash but I went into Saturday undaunted. I was bound and determined to have a good gaming experience at this con if I had to force it. Always remember that there are two sides to a gaming experience – the one they give you and the one you choose to have. You have to choose to forget the bad and seek out the good.

Being a con that I don’t have to get up early for, I chose not to do so and we took our time coming down. I fully intended on meeting up with Tom and friends to hopefully muster enough players to run this Achtung! Cthulhu adventure. I was scheduled to run Aliens the Board Game but I was more than willing to drop that in favor of this RPG adventure. I had a great time with Aliens at MACE West, but really wanted to playtest all the work I put into Three Kings.

Throughout the morning, I dropped by the gaming room to see how things were progressing.  I was impressed with the building energy.  Between the PFS, MAGMA gamers, and the demos being run by The Dragon’s Den, gaming was finally kicking into full swing.  This reminded me of when I ran gaming for a small to medium sized sci-fi con in High Point.  It was fairly natural to have a slow Friday night, a very busy Saturday and a near dead Sunday at a con like this.  However, despite this, I still had a comprehensive schedule and on-site registration when I ran gaming at a con this size.

My two oldest kids got involved with the kids program, which was unbelievably well done.  It was based on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and my kids had a blast.  The fan side of the con – programming events, kids program, and guests – were all well done.  The guest line up was primarily literary and not something I was overly interested in, which is why I thought running games would be good for me at this con.  The gaming guest of honor, however, was Lee Garvin – famous for Tales from the Floating Vagabond role-playing game, published by Avalon Hill.  I never got to talk to him and probably should have made time.  I do apologize for that journalistic failure.

The good side of my games not having any players registered for my games is that I can change them however I wanted.  I did end up getting a full table for the Achtung! Cthulhu game.  Unfortunately, none of them ever played Savage Worlds before, and I am not the best person to teach it, as I am still getting used to it.  In fact, I had a college student who never played in an RPG before in their lives and a 10 year old boy who was probably overly enthusiastic.

I took on the challenge and I think they got a reasonable understanding of the game.  However, this did take time.  We got very close to the end of the adventure, however, mostly because of some very intelligent and sharp-eyed players.  It is safe to say there is such a thing as too much preparation and additive material.  Because this adventure took place in a real location, I chose to use the internet for what it is good for – research.  I found some great photos of the location – castle in Czechoslovakia – and used them as more intelligence photos.  Unfortunately, these photos very poignantly revealed some features that were not figured into the adventures – including some back doors into the location of the boss bad guy.  The players were very astute and alert when finding these back doors and I could not take that away from them.  It was brilliant; it just changed the adventure a little.

This session made up for a lot of the bad that I experienced the previous night, with respect to gaming.  I went into the rest of the evening very satisfied with my gaming experience for the day.  My two oldest were going to be in the costume contest – my son dressed as Arrow and my daughter dressed as Katniss from Hunger Games.  I packed up quickly and made it to the costume contest just in time.

My kids are another reason why I attend the occasional sci-fi con. I ran a sci-fi con for several years and they grew up on them.  They really liked costuming and wanted to get involved.  So once I got out of running sci-fi cons, I decided to attend a few each year so the kids can still pursue that interest.  The RavenCon costume contest was small but very well organized.  The person in charge – Anita Bruckert – really knew what she was doing and probably could do really well at a larger con.  The costumes were all very good.  I was most impressed with the Warhammer 40k space marine.

After dinner and checking the gaming room for pick-up games, I checked out the parties while my wife put the kids to bed.  There were 3 major ones and the ever-present Baen Barfly room.  The Klingons party seemed to be the hottest.  There was also one being run by the Honor Harrington fan group as well as the DC17 World Con bid group.  The nightlife of RavenCon was more than adequate to keep the attention of the party going crowd, of which I think I have simply outgrown.  There was a time, but that was a long time ago.

Day 3 – Sunday

I was scheduled to run Star Wars X-Wing miniatures Sunday morning. I set up and once again, no players.  This time, I waited an hour.  Sunday, as expected, was dead.  It did not look like any PFS games even made. I did not check the schedule, however, to see if any were scheduled.  By 10 am, I was packing up and while I was doing so, I was being told I was on the wrong table by another person.  Already not in the best mood because I did not get players, I grumbly apologized for the confusion. I was told I had Table 10 on Saturday and Sunday but changes could have been made that I was not aware of.  They were insistent that I was at the wrong table and the coordinator was nowhere to be seen.  They finally figured out that they were actually on table 14 and apologized.  Again, I am sure this kind of thing happens even at cons I am involved with, but at least I am there to straighten it up.

Once more, my games did not make because I was not on any kind of preregistration system.  At the same time, however, it was so dead that early in the morning, I am not sure any players would have shown up.  The games that did make looked really fun, actually – one Savage Worlds game as well as what looked like a Delta Green Call of Cthulhu game by MAGMA people.  I thought about joining one of those but instead, I wanted to help my wife pack up and get the kids ready to leave.

We left fairly early, as we had other things to do in Richmond.  We got home fairly late but felt reasonably satisfied with our con experience.  I was told ahead of time what to expect in terms of size and I was not surprised.  It was a small con but the people were friendly, the fans were passionate and the staff worked hard.  This is the ninth year of this con and growth has obviously been slow.  The fact that it’s a literary con is probably why – they simply do not pull in as many people as media cons.  I respect the decision to stay that way, as it keeps things simple and keeps the con manageable.  The con I was involved with decided to go media after 5 years of slow growth as a literary con and it became unmanageably large.  RavenCon is a good family friendly con with a lot of offer a fan.

Gaming needs a little work but it has a lot of potential.  It will grow and when it does, it’s going to need more management then they are doing now.  I know the players had a good time but unless you are with PFS or MAGMA, you are going to have to scrounge for players.  They have a good location and good people.  They just have to harness the potential they have and manage it well.

Eldritch Horror

Eldritch Horror
From: Fantasy Flight Games
Reviewed by: Tony McRee

Eldritch Horror is a cooperative board game from Fantasy Flight Games. This game is another addition to their line of games that explore the H.P. Lovecraft lore. Getting inspiration from the Arkham Horror game, Corey Konieczka and Nikki Valens take the adventures out of the city of Arkham and send them globetrotting in search of a mystery that will bring them face to face with the Ancient Ones.

 “The end of the world draws near!”

Eldritch Horror is very familiar in gameplay to Arkham Horror, and the mission you need to accomplish is to either keep the Elder One from awakening or destroy it if it does. At the start players pick investigators, some of which are familiar faces from the other games in the series. Investigators have three steps to perform: all players take two actions, players then have encounters, and the lead investigator turns over a Mythos card from the constructed deck based on the elder one. The actions the players take include travelling, getting tickets to help move a little farther, resting, trading items, getting assets, or doing component actions. All these actions help prepare the player to face the upcoming encounters. These actions and encounters then assist the investigators in solving the three mysteries that will keep the Elder One from awakening. Sounds simple, but the Mythos card that gets turned over after the encounters only throws roadblocks up for the investigators by either spawning monsters, advancing the doom track, spawning gates or a host of other bad effects.

“The door exploded into the room with a thunderous crack, and the thing stepped past the threshold”

While the concepts of Eldritch Horror are simple, the gameplay is very challenging. It is one of my favorite cooperative games and we find ourselves at times on the verge of success only to be ripped to shreds as the Elder One steps through the threshold. Two things stand out for me about this game over Arkham Horror. First, the gaining of assets is different in this game during the player’s turn and is a nice addition to the game. Players roll dice equal to their player’s Influence stat and based on the success rolls, the purchasing value is determined. Players then gain Assets from the reserve equal to or less than the purchasing value. If a player doesn’t have enough value, he can then take Debt which adds some interesting impacts if you are not careful. The second addition is the ability to collect loot from players that have expired during the game…and players will expire, that is a given. Instead of losing their assets, players can claim them if they go and investigate the body. This is a great addition because some loot is epic and really helps along the way.

In conclusion, Eldritch Horror has the same feel as Arkham Horror but can stand on its own. If you already have Arkham Horror, should you get it?  It depends on if you need another “beat an Elder One” cooperative game in your collection. If you don’t, then Eldritch Horror is a great addition to a collection. I enjoy Eldritch Horror more than the other games in the series. I liked not having to fiddle with the stats of a character like you do in Arkham Horror and of course the challenge of the game exceeds Elder Sign. While the base game only comes with four initial scenarios, Fantasy Flight has already announced an expansion to keep the game fresh and thus showing their support.

For more details on this game, head over to the Fantasy Flight Games http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite.asp?eidm=244&enmi=Eldritch%20Horror or your local game store.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

Eldritch Horror
Type of Game: Cooperation
Game Design by: Corey Konieczka and Nikki Valens
Game Components Included:  

  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 Reference Guide
  • 12 Investigator Sheets w/ Matching Tokens & Stands
  • 4 Ancient One Sheets
  • 51 Mythos Cards (21 yellow, 18 green and 12 blue)
  • 16 Mystery Cards (4 backs, 4 each)
  • 14 Artifact Cards
  • 40 Asset Cards
  • 36 Condition Cards
  • 20 Spell Cards
  • 4 Reference Cards
  • 122 Encounter Cards
  • 8 America Cards
  • 8 Europe Cards
  • 8 Asia/Australia Cards
  • 12 General Cards
  • 24 Other World Cards
  • 18 Expedition (6 backs, 3 each)
  • 12 Special Cards (2 backs, 6 each)
  • 32 Research Cards (4 backs, 8 each)
  • 245 Tokens
  • 43 Monster Tokens (34 normal, 9 epic)
  • 1 Lead Investigator token
  • 1 Active Expedition Token
  • 20 Travel Ticket Tokens (8 train, 12 ship)
  • 30 Improvement Tokens (6 for each skill)
  • 9 Gate Tokens
  • 20 Eldritch Tokens
  • 36 Clue Tokens
  • 1 Mystery Token
  • 4 Rumor Tokens
  • 78 Health and Sanity Tokens
  • 30 (1 Health)
  • 12 (3 Health)
  • 24 (1 Sanity)
  • 12 (3 Sanity)
  • 4 Dice

Retail Price: $ 59.99 (US)
Number of Players: up to 8
Player Ages: 14 and up
Play Time: 45 minutes per player
Website: http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite.asp?eidm=244

Reviewed by: Tony McRee

Club MACE 2015 Announced

Club MACE 2015 is making plans. We are set to sail June 20th 2015 for a week long cruise. Our port city is Charleston, SC this year. We leave on Saturday June 20, 2015 and return Saturday June 27th. While at sea we will be stopping at Nassau, The Grand Turks and Half Moon Key. Last year was a blast and I hope you will join us for the second year of Club MACE. We will update this page as more information becomes available.

For more information, please contact us. For general event info; justusprod at aol.com. For cruise information; Elizabeth at outlandertravel.com

We hope to see you on board

Firefly: the Game

Firefly: The Game

From: Gale Force 9

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

Over the decades, there have been a plethora of shows which failed to last more than one season. While most are quickly forgotten, a few have managed to maintain a cult following. Of these shows, none have quite inspired the fanatical devotion that Firefly has garnered. Eleven years following its untimely cancellation, an official board game has been released.

From the back of the box:
“After the War, many of the Independents who had fought and lost drifted to the edges of the system, far from Alliance control. Out here, people struggled to get by with the most basic technologies; a ship would bring you work, a gun would help you keep it. A captain’s goal was simple; find a crew, find a job, keep flying.”

My own feeling in regards to Firefly could be considered somewhat mixed. The space Western motif was a huge draw, since I’m a sucker for Westerns with a weird twist (as my fandom of Deadlands will attest). Not only that, but the theme of struggling to get by and keep your ship running injected a free trader element which had been mostly restricted to literary science fiction up to that point. On the negative side, the whole Academy subplot with its conspiracy undertones struck me as being old hat, and I felt it clashed badly with the space Western side. So I guess it was inevitable that I would find the 2005 movie to be a disappointment, as it jettisoned most everything I had enjoyed about the show while emphasizing what I disliked. Having said that, the above quote gave a positive initial impression of the game by indicating that it would concentrate on the aspects which attracted me to the show in the first place.

Much like the characters from the TV show, a player’s goal is to take jobs and earn money to keep his ship running. On a player’s turn, up to two actions may be taken, so long as the same action type isn’t repeated. The four possible action types are Fly, Buy, Deal, and Work. Frequently skill checks will be required during these actions. This involves rolling a die and adding bonuses provided by the relevant Supply cards. Should the die come up a six, a second die is rolled, with the result being added to the total as well.

Of course, a ship isn’t a proper ship without a captain. There are seven different leaders from which to select. As well as providing some skill bonuses, each leader has a special ability which will either reduce the cost of purchasing certain Supply cards or provide an additional benefit from completing certain types of jobs.

Flying moves your ship around the game board and comes in two varieties. When you Mosey, your ship moves one space. While there’s no risk or expenditure of resources involved, it’ll also take forever to cover any significant distance. To make some real progress requires Full Burn. By expending one unit of Fuel, the ship may move a number of spaces up to the Range of the currently equipped drive. However, each space moved during Full Burn requires a draw from the appropriate Nav deck. This potentially provides a variety of encounters for good or for ill. Good ones usually provide an opportunity to scavenge derelicts or otherwise gain resources. Not so good ones can inflict breakdowns or even draw unwanted attention from either the Alliance or the Reavers.

Buying Supply cards is necessary to be able to complete all but the most low paying jobs. At a Supply planet, a player may take up to three cards from the appropriate deck, drawing from the top and/or selecting from the discards. Of these, up to two may be purchased. Gear and Crew cards provide skill bonuses and will often possess an additional ability (though some of the cheaper Crew cards may have a disadvantage). Among the most expensive are the Ship Upgrades, which provide a variety of ways to pimp out your vessel and improve its performance.

Dealing with Contacts at one of the Contact planets allows a player to obtain jobs to earn cash. Drawing Contact cards works the same as drawing Supply cards (draw three, keep up to two). Successfully completing a job results in becoming Solid with that Contact. In most cases this allows a player to sell scavenged cargo and contraband to the Contact at specified prices. Most Contacts will also provide some additional benefit when you have a Solid status with them.

Jobs are key to getting ahead and come in two varieties. Deliveries require that you pick up something at Point A and take it to Point B, which can be legal or illegal. Crime jobs require you to perform a task at the specified location and are always illegal. All but the lowest paying jobs require that you possess a minimum amount of certain skill bonuses and/or specific forms of Gear to complete. If these conditions cannot be met, the job cannot be taken. When a job is successfully completed, the listed amount of cash is received. At this point, each of your crew will expect to be paid an amount equal to their hiring cost. While you don’t have to pay all of them should you have some reason not to, this is a poor long-term strategy.

Though illegal jobs generally pay better, they also involve drawing and resolving one or more cards from the Misbehave deck. These introduce a variety of complications that crop up during the job. Each card provides 2-3 options that will require either a skill check or the possession of a Supply card. Depending on the results of the choice, there are one of three possible outcomes. Proceed allows you to draw the next Misbehave card or continue/complete the job if it’s the last card you need to resolve. Botch results in the job ending, though you can make another attempt on your next turn. If a Warrant is issued, the job ends in total failure. The Contact card goes to the discard pile and you lose any Solid status you may have with the Contact from whom you obtained the job. While the individual Misbehave cards may look easy to resolve, it can be a tricky matter to successfully do two or more in a row. Therefore jobs requiring multiple draws from the Misbehave deck should only be attempted if you have a large, well-rounded crew backing you up.

From the rulebook:
“Sometimes there aren’t any thrilling heroics to be found and you may need to muck out some stables or bus tables at the local joint.”

Keeping your crew happy is important if you don’t want them abandoning you at an inopportune moment. Certain actions taken can result in Crew becoming Disgruntled. The most common way to Disgruntle a Crew is to not pay them at the end of a job. Should a Crew who is already Disgruntled become Disgruntled again, the card goes to the appropriate discard pile. Though there are many ways to regruntle Crew, the most certain method is to go on shore leave at a Supply planet at the cost of $100 per Crew card you possess (regardless of how many actually are Disgruntled).

If this was all that the game had, it could easily get monotonous. This is where Story cards come in. At the beginning of the game, a Story is selected. This provides an overarching caper to accomplish as you try to keep your ship running. A Story will have one or more Goals to complete. Of all the stories which come with the game, I find the ones with multiple Goals preferable. The single Goal cards essentially boil down to, “Be the first to make X amount of cash.” Multiple Goal Stories give you something to accomplish besides raking in money. The rulebook recommends King of All Londinium as a good introductory story. I personally disagree, as I found the first Goal frustratingly difficult. Harken’s Folly struck me as more suitable for first-timers. There’s also a single player option where your goal is to meet one of three possible criteria within twenty turns.

Opportunities for in-game player interaction are somewhat minimal. If two ships are in the same space, they can trade Supply cards as desired. This is also an opportunity to hire away any Disgruntled crew the other player may have. Otherwise, players just go about their business without interfering with one another. This tendency towards multi-player solitaire can be a turn-off for some gamers.

In conclusion, the Story cards are a major saving grace, as the overall solid game mechanics could otherwise devolve into a cycle of tedium without some overarching purpose. While the lack of player interaction can be seen as a minus, the upcoming Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion promises to provide options in that regard.

Rating: 14

Product Summary

Firefly: The Game

From: Gale Force 9

Type of Game: Board Game

Game Design by: Sean Sweigart and Aaron Dill

Design Direction by: John Kovaleski

Cover Art by: Type Name(s)

Graphic Design by: Gale Force Nine Studio

Game Components Included: Game board, Rulebook, 125 Supply cards, 125 Contact cards, 80 Nav cards, 40 Misbehave cards, 7 Leader cards, 4 Starting Drive Core cards, 4 Ship cards, 150 Money bills, 6 Story cards, 1 Alliance/Reaver Contact card, 40 Cargo/Contraband tokens, 28 Passenger/Fugitive tokens, 20 Part tokens, 44 Fuel tokens, 20 Disgruntled tokens, 13 Warrant/Goal tokens, 1 Dinosaur token, 2 dice, 4 Firefly models, 1 Alliance Cruiser model, 1 Reaver Cutter model

Retail Price: $50.00

Number of Players: 1-4

Player Ages: 13+

Play Time: 1 hour Solitaire, 2 hours Multiplayer

Website: http://www.fireflythegame.com/

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island
From: Gamewright
Reviewed by: Tony McRee

 Forbidden Island is a cooperative game from Gamewright.

Following the success of Pandemic, Matt Leacock set out to design a co-op game that would allow the younger gamer to join in the fun. Forbidden Island  was the result of that goal and is a good entry game for those players, especially younger players, to try out a cooperative game where it is the players against the game. The goal is for players to work together to recover four treasures and return to the helicopter pad before the island sinks or a player does not have a return path to the helicopter pad. The game is either lost by all or won by all. While the game is not one of the most challenging co-op games on the market, it does provide an excellent introduction to the world of gaming.

 “A fearless band of adventurers…”

Forbidden Island is a simple game to learn and teach. You are given a fearless adventurer at random at the start of the game. Each adventurer has a unique trait that will help the team achieve their goal of collecting the four treasures on the island. However, collecting the treasure is only half the task, the adventurers must all then return to the helicopter pad and play the helicopter card so they can leave the island before it sinks. During your turn you perform three steps: Take 3 actions, draw 2 treasure cards, and draw Forbidden Island cards equal to the water level shown on the water gauge.

Take 3 Actions: Your actions can be to move about the island, shore up flooded lands before they sink, give a treasure card to a fellow player, or capture a treasure if you have four cards of that treasure and are on part of the island where the treasure icon resides.

Draw 2 Treasure Cards: You then draw two cards from the treasure deck that will either be treasure cards, special action cards, or the Waters Rise cards.

Draw Island Cards: Once you have resolved any special effects from this draw, you then turn over the Forbidden Island cards and flip over the matching Island tile to show that it is flooded. If the tile is already flooded, it is removed from the game along with the matching Forbidden Island card.

Play continues like this until the adventures gather up the four treasures. All then must make it to a special tile called Fool’s Landing and escape the island by playing a special action card called Helicopter Lift. Players will lose if one of the following happen – the special treasure tiles sink (are removed from the game) and the treasure can’t be claimed, Fool’s Landing sinks, or a player cannot make it back to Fool’s Landing.

“…seeks Sacred Treasure”

As you play Forbidden Island, you discover that even though the game lacks depth, it is still a game to treasure especially when sharing it with younger gamers. The concepts are simple, there is a good theme and some urgency during the game, but generally, your group will find success more than failure. Forbidden Island is a great first timer’s cooperation game and is also the game that is used in our game club’s library when we go to local libraries to teach the younger gamer crowd. If you have young gamers in your family, you can’t beat this game to put in your collection, especially at a price point usually found below $20.

In conclusion, Forbidden Island is a great game to add to your collection. However, if you think that it might be too simple, take a look at Forbidden Desert for it raises the bar on challenge but still keeps a similar theme.

For more details on either game, head over to the “Gamewright website” http://www.gamewright.com/gamewright/index.php?section=games and at your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 15 – Fairly Good

Product Summary

Forbidden Island
Type of Game: Cooperation
Game Design by: Matt Leacock
Game Components Included:  58 playing cards, 24 island tiles, 6 pawns, 4 treasure figurines, 1 water meter, 1 water level marker, rules of play
Retail Price: $ 16.99 (US)
Number of Players: up to 4
Player Ages: 10 and up
Play Time: 45 minutes
Website: http://www.gamewright.com/gamewright/index.php?section=games

Reviewed by: Tony McRee

Building an Elder God

Building an Elder God

From: Signal Fire Studios

Reviewed by: Barry Lewis

If you’re familiar with monster card/tile building games such as “Cartoona” and “Monster Factory”  then “Building an Elder God,” by Signal Fire Studios, will be easy to pick up and play.  As for those of you who are not, don’t fret, it’s a very easy, fun game to learn and play.

The basic premise of the game is to build or “summon” your god first, all the while slowing your opponents down by damaging their god along the way.  First one to “summon” their god or who is the first one eaten or driven insane, wins.  I guess it depends on your definition of what “win” is when dealing with madness inducing conglomerations.

You start the game with a body card and a mouth card, 2 necronomicon cards and a starting hand of 5 cards.  You’ll always have 5 cards in your hand, no more and no less.  So make sure to draw or discard to get back to 5 cards. Place the body in front of you and put the mouth and necronomicon cards aside for now.  The players then take turns placing cards next to the body to create their creature.  Players can also place “damaged” or “shotgunned” cards on other player’s creatures to slow down their progress.  If you have a damaged body part, you can either use one of your necronomicon cards to heal it and make it immune to any other damage for the rest of the game or you can place a “healthy” card of the same type over it.  Also, some body parts have a purple-ish hue around them indicating they are immune to damage.

To win the game, you must have at least the minimum number of body cards stated in the rules to win the game.  Once you have the required number of body parts you can then play the “mouth” card and win the game.  We were playing a 5 player game so the creature had to be at least 8 cards minimum not including the body and mouth.  There is a “variant” game in which you use elder sign cards as well, but since we were just learning the game we decided not to use them.

There were a few minor rules questions, but it didn’t take away from the fun.  The most common issue were the cards themselves.  They were very “sticky” or tactile and made it a little difficult to deal and draw from the pile.  The group I played it with really enjoyed it and called it a great “filler”game.  I also enjoyed it, but lost as usual because I was paying too much attention to my creature and not paying enough attention to the rest of the group.  The game is definitely needed in your library for “pick-up” gaming.

打印Codex rating: 13

Building an Elder God

Produced by: Signal Fire Studios

Developed by: Jamie Chambers

Design and Art by: Ben Mund

# of Players: 2-5

Suggested Age: 6 and up

Playing time: 15 to 30 minutes

Retail Price: $19.99 (US)

Website: Signalfirestudios.com