Monthly Archives: August 2013

Trouble at GenCon

Never been to GenCon.  Doubt I will ever go.  But it is still one of the big conventions for gamers here in the United States.

Please read the article linked below, and, if you think that this is a problem, contact GenCon LLC about it.

You can contact GenCon LLC at

The Cunning Cat Caper – recap

Over at The Reef, Sophie has posted a recap of my game, The Cunning Cat Caper, that I ran at FATE Con.  Check it out!

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Duel of Ages II

I was going to do a review of Duel of Ages II, but Sophie did such a good job that instead I think I will just refer you to her review.  Let me just add a few comments.

First the bad stuff (since Sophie already covers a lot of the good stuff).

  • The game “style” as presented is somewhat whimsical and light-hearted.  This is great, but is at odds with the game mechanics, which are complex and at times downright byzantine in nature.  Since many of the characters have special abilities that allow them to somehow bend or break the rules in some way, and you will have 12 characters on the board in the standard introductory scenario, it is easy to get lost in the morass of rules and special rules and special abilities at the beginning.  This probably does wonders for the game’s replay value, but for those who sit down (as I did) for a beer-and-pretzels game of genre-mixing, time travelling weirdness, it can be a little much to take in.
  • With the inclusion of the DOA II Masters expansion, the game becomes mammoth, labyrinthine, and physically overwhelming.  I suffered from visual overload just looking at all the different card decks, terrain features, and all the annotations on the character cards.
  • At something like $120.00 for the game and the expansion (conceding that the expansion is gigantic, far out-massing the basic game itself) you need to be pretty serious about wanting to play this game a lot in order to get a copy.  Nothing wrong with that, but the complexity of the game may make it necessary to play several times before  you can make a decision.
  • The fact that the game is limited to two “teams” is unfortunate.  While it is possible to divide the teams up among multiple players, I think a multi-team approach would make the game more interesting for groups.

Second – good stuff (because otherwise it will sound like I am shitting all over this game, and I actually liked it)

  • Once you get past the hump of learning the basic mechanics, it turns out that there is actually a pretty good tactical game here, where you need to make weighty decisions that have important consequences from set-up to game end, starting with your choice of characters for your team.
  • The BASIC game mechanics are not that hard to learn, if you can figure out how to ignore the chrome for a couple of turns.
  • As Sophie mentioned, because of the vast number of characters, the huge number of game boards (or “platters”) and the seemingly endless types of cards (common, secret, elite, henchman) the game has functionally endless replay value, as well as surprises that will pop out when you least expect them.
  • You CAN play the game with groups, and the team approach does allow for a sort of “cooperative game” feel, even in the midst of competition.

I  think that Duel of Ages II is a worthwhile addition to the game shelf.  If you get a chance to play, do so.  If you are the sort of person who loves to be able to say stuff like “OK, Davy Crockett is going to shoot the dragon with a terawatt laser.” then you probably already own this game, but if you don’t, you should.

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Duel of Ages II

Played Duel of Ages II yesterday.  It would be a long and involved post to unpack that game, so I will for the moment just post my semi-official Duel of Ages II card for ME!

click to enlarge

click to enlarge


The Land of Ten Thousand Gods – Religion

In the land of 10,000 gods, the gods are very real, and common enough that even a peasant might be expected to encounter one or more during the course of their life.  This means that the gods themselves have been uniquely involved in deciding where and how they are worshiped.

Home shrine (click to enlarge)

Home shrine
(click to enlarge)

Outdoor shrine (click to enlarge)

Outdoor shrine
(click to enlarge)

The gods have largely decided that they are not particularly interested in any sort of religious hierarchy, hereditary priesthood, divine lineage of rulership, or any of the vast majority of worldly power structures commonly associated with religious institutions.  Throughout almost all of the land religious institutions are very small, informal affairs – simple shrines with perhaps one or two attendants (or perhaps none at all) with a single individual, considered particularly holy by the community, who leads rather informal services.  Religious ceremonies themselves vary a lot from village to village, town to town, and are impromptu rather than being held at set times on a regular schedule.  Various gods do have their own holy days with unique rituals and celebrations, but it is up to those who live in a particular area to organize and participate in these events.


Major temple (click to enlarge)

Major temple
(click to enlarge)

A major exception to the above is Ten-thousand-temple City.  It is here that the followers of the various gods set up extensive temple complexes, and here that religious hierarchy flourishes.  Those interested in the prestige of the priesthood, or a community of of the faithful in the form of a monastic order, come to express their particular form of worship to the gods.  Much of Ten-thousand-temple City is given over to vast and ancient religious orders, small and secretive cults, and innumerable sects attempting to gain (or cling to) power within the hierarchy.  These religious organizations are continually attempting to spread their influence beyond Ten-thousand-temple City, but are frustrated by the long tradition that the area has for religious independence, and the fact that the gods themselves will sometimes step in to limit their reach and authority.  The gods recognize however that some people need the structure that a religious institution provides, and so allow them to flourish largely unchecked here.  The gods also recognize that it is good to have somewhere to keep records, historical accounts, and other information, and so allow the temples to continue so long as they act as repositories of knowledge and history.

Theocracy town - temple has green roof (click to enlarge)

Theocracy town – temple has green roof
(click to enlarge)

Grand temple of the One God (click to enlarge)

Grand temple of the One God
(click to enlarge)

The other exception is the Theocracy of One God.  Here there is a single institution, the Temple of One, that acts as both the religious and civil authority over the entire nation.  Priests of the One God have authority over both the temples (which are ubiquitous in every town and village) and the civil government.  In fact, temples often act as the seat of the local government.  Worship of the One God is strictly defined and controlled by the priesthood, with specific times, places, and ceremonies that are led and overseen by priests.  Law  enforcement and the judiciary are also handled  by religious organizations, and religion is a strong organizing force within society.

Prayer wheels (click to enlarge)

Prayer wheels
(click to enlarge)

Prayer flags (click to enlarge)

Prayer flags
(click to enlarge)

There are numerous methods of prayer and worship that are practiced within the Land of Ten Thousand Gods.  It is very common to utilize symbolic objects to represent prayers to the gods – there are so many that taking the time to pray to each one is impossible.  So people have set up certain systems to streamline the process.  Prayer wheels, prayer beads, prayer flags, and prayer bells are very common, and can be found almost everywhere.  they come in varying sizes from small bells and beads that hang from clothing to slightly larger versions that are carried or worn, to still larger versions that decorate individual houses and local shrines, to very large versions that may decorate major pieces of art or large temples or (in the case of prayer flags) decorate entire neighborhoods.

Hand-held prayer bell (click to enlarge)

Hand-held prayer bell
(click to enlarge)

Prayer beads (click to enlarge)

Prayer beads
(click to enlarge)

Dwarves tend to favor prayer flags, and decorate the entrances to their underground cities extensively, while halflings prefer bells, beads, and chanting.  Humans and elves aren’t particular, and use various objects at different times and places and for various religious purposes.

Again an exception is the Theocracy of the One God, which tends to frown on any sort of religious paraphernalia outside of the priesthoods.  While all the objects mentioned above can be found within the worship of the One God, their use is strictly regulated and confined to members of the religious hierarchy itself.  Instead of various forms of individual worship which can be done when and where a given person wishes, the Theocracy of the One God mandates that certain periods during the day be set aside for prayer.  These are announced from the temples by priests, or (occasionally) by the tolling of bells at the appropriate time.

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Fiasco 40K draft PDF done


I have finished the first draft of my Fiasco 40k PDF.  Still need to add some Fiascolike art, but here it is!

Fiasco 40k

Feedback is welcome!

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FAE – “The Muppet Show – Secret Service”

Sophie has written up the FAE game that she played at this week’s Fate Con.

I played Sam the Eagle.

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The Cunning Cat Caper

I ran my FAE version of “Cat” at Fatecon, held in Oakland at Endgame, on Saturday. It went quite well, with all sorts of crazy catness as the cats tried to defeat Ratscallion the evil rat mage and rescue their humans from the clutches of his sinister rat magic.

My wife Sophie took a photo of the aspects generated.


I may try to write up the session later – Sophie also took copious notes – but I’m not sure.

I had a really fun group of players and I hope I will see some or all of them again at Big Bad Con.

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The Cunning Cat Caper – character sheets

Cunning Cat Caper2Here are the character sheets that I am using for my FAE game at Fatecon this weekend.  I am running for only four players, so some of the characters won’t be taken, but everyone will have a choice.

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