Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gaming Podcast Review 17 Dungeons and Dragons

This is the official Wizards of the Coast podcast for D&D, so its now based on 4e. I've had ambivalent feelings about another edition of D&D being released which I've previously discussed so I'll just concentrate on the podcast itself.

The regular presenters are Mike Mearls and Dave Noonan, both from WotC D&D division. Mike Mearls is well known as a scenario designer for many different companies including Necromancer Games and Goodman Games. Dave Noonan is another member of the design team whose work I don't know so well. There is a good interplay between the presenters with Mike Mearls tending to deal with answering most of the questions in the mailbag episodes.

The content is mainly discussion of 4e D&D which is hardly surprising, but there have been episodes talking to Wizard's other designers from products like Star Wars SAGA edition. The discussions with other designers are to highlight how 4e D&D doesn't stand in isolation from the development of games like Star Wars SAGA edition or earlier versions of D&D. There have been a number of episodes solely focused on answering questions from listeners and the latest podcasts feature a game being played with the crew from the Penny Arcade webcomic.

The sound quality is excellent, but given that WotC has a major corporate parent in Hasbro I'd expect them to invest the time and resources to make this work well. It downloads easily from iTunes store and the WotC site.

If you are playing 4e D&D I'd rank this as pretty essential, if you are interested and want to find out more then it would definitely be a useful information source though with a clear bias towards 4e. Obviously if you have no intention of

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Love is....

... beer and free Wi-Fi internet

Maybe not love, but certainly enjoyment as Weatherspoons not only sell decent real ale cheaply, but also have free wi-fi which I've used to make this post. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

All the boardgames I own part 3

Yet more lazy blogging. ;)

  1. ASL Starter Kit #1 Well I'd looked at ASL for a long time and thought that the necessary investment was too high before trying so the Starter Kit had to be a godsend. So far I've only played a few scenarios and it can be tricky coming from Squad Leader itself due to the important differences for example with support weapon ROF. I've now finally downloaded VASSAL so I will try and get set up and play some games online now.
  2. ASL Starter Kit #2 This was a must buy as it includes the British, but I've always liked having the minor nations as well. The cover has the iconic German 88 in silhouette and is nice and clean in design. So far I've only played the infantry scenarios including the Sicily campaign one against my brother. I'm glad that this included one of the iconic British artillery pieces in terms of the 25 pounder and though it doesn't include the British 6lbs anti-tank gun the American 57mm is virtually identical so would be usable for it allowing for the British not using HE much from AT guns.
  3. ASL Starter Kit #3 Completing the set. I've still not had a chance to play any of the scenarios from this one yet, so I've been spared the complexity of the armour rules so far. The scenarios are a nice mix including Arras with British Matilda tanks against Rommel's German forces and a scenario in Crete with Vickers Light Tanks and New Zealanders against German paras. There are early war scenarios with the Russians and Germans so there is a mix of armour supplied. The cover of this box has a Tiger I in profile, but this is less distinctive than the other two games.
  4. Statis Pro Football - as sports games go a strong simulation one, but less fun than Football Strategy to me as it is too detailed and long running with certain teams much more likely to win due to their stats. The evenly matched teams in Football Strategy make it all about the gameplay and outthinking your opponent which I prefer.
  5. Invasion of the Air Eaters a Metagaming microgame that I've probably underappreciated and one that I might try and run again sometime. I remember the rules being fairly complex for a microgame which may have put me off in the old days.
  6. Illuminati - New World OrderIncluding card games in the list may be a bit of a cheat, but there is a fair cross over and BoardGameGeek includes miniatures rules like Hordes of the Things so I'm going to go ahead with this. Like the original Illuminiati game from Steve Jackson this is a fun game of building a secret power structure to rule the world. Like any CCG a lot of work needs to go into hand construction, but as I bought the complete set box it isn't that hard to do.
  7. Artifact A metagaming microgame set in the near future with an alien artefact found on the moon and conflict between US and Soviet forces and also an alien race that has been summoned by the 'dingus' found on the moon. A long time since I've played this and from what I remember a decent if not particularly exciting wargame.
  8. Cry Havoc This is a tactical combat game for mediaeval Britain with named counters representing knights, men at arms, peasants and other individuals. It is playable solo as well as with 2 players, but tends to work better with two. The rules are reasonably simple and its an enjoyable game and lends itself to use with miniatures on the hex maps. The scenarios are reasonable and include a peasant revolt and fight between peasant gangs.
  9. Siege Siege develops the Cry Havoc game by adding fortifications and rules for assaulting them. The counters include additional units for the necessary items like siege engines and scaling ladders together with more characters. The parts are completely interchangeable with Cry Havoc allowing larger scale games to be played if you own both. I found this one best for solo play as a siege obviously has a more limited set of likely tactical options to decide on.
  10. Outremer This takes the Cry Havoc rules and applies it to the Crusades with counters for crusaders and saracens. It includes campaign rules and a few scenarios with a scenario generator. Like the earlier games the components are completely compatible allowing large games.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Podcast Review: Dateline Jasoom

Dateline Jasoom is a podcast devoted to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB for short). This includes Tarzan, John Carter of Mars and everything else that the prolific Burroughs produced. The main presenter is Jeff "Elmo" Long and his huge enthusiasm for his subject shows in these podcasts. I haven't seen any updates since February 2008 at time of writing and I'm trying to find out the reason for the hiatus.

The content varies from episode to episode, but includes interviews with writers and academics that are interested in ERB, fan fiction, archive interviews with ERB, Johnny Weismuller and other related parties. The tone is humorous and I suspect that listeners reaction would depend on how this strikes them. Personally as a British person I like it as it tends to be a national habit to be pretty light hearted and this matches this.

The recording quality is clear and I've not had any problems downloading from Panthan Press or iTunes.

This is recommended to fans of pulp fiction in general and strongly to fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gaming Podcast Review 16 The 2 Half Squads

The 2 half squads is an Advanced Squad Leader podcast which has only recently started and seems to be coming out pretty regularly as we've now had 5 episodes.

The two regular presenters, Jeff Hallett and Dave Kleinschmidt, have an excellent interplay. There are a number of regular items now in these podcasts including tactical tips for both newcomers and experienced players, favourite scenarios, and "what's in the box". What's in the box reviews the contents of a module for ASL, the favorite scenarios discusses pretty much what it says and the tactical tips include the ASL Starter Kits, which is important for me. There are pretty frequent guests from the ASL community which helps keep things interesting. I'd rate the content highly for players of ASL,

This is a bit of a weak area, the first episode had a distinct echo and sound quality can be a bit variable,

I like this podcast and it is interesting if you are interested in Advanced Squad Leader. I'd say for ASL players this is pretty much essential, but if you are not interested in the game then you could probably give it a miss for one of the more general wargames or boardgames podcasts.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Gaming Podcast Review 15 RolePlaying Public Radio

Podcast review #15 hopefully the first of the series of Wednesday reviews on my podcast

Roleplaying Public Radio is an established RPG podcast that started out largely as a humourous podcast, but has moved into having more serious discussions and reviews. I've not spent that much time listening to the actual play sessions due to time pressures

The two main presenters are Ross Payton and Tom Church, with occasional guests for round table sessions or one off episodes. There is a good interplay between the main presenters and this is definitely one of the chattier podcasts that I listen to. There is a pretty high humour level in the podcasts and this is pretty appealing as it doesn't feel too forced or excessive. I like the use of group discussions on topics in the same way that The Game's The Thing uses regular roundtables on reviews. The length is usually around 1 hour which makes it an easy podcast to listen to in one sitting unlike some lengthy podcasts.

Regular sections are the Gaming Anecdote, the letter to..., and listener feedback. Topics have included keeping things feeling fresh for long running games and players, the role of rules, dealing with bad players and these have been pretty useful for ideas coming from active gamers.

The audio quality is pretty clear and it is easy to hear the presenter's voices. The file sizes are reasonable and the downloads seem fairly reliable.

This is actually a podcast that I've found enough value and enjoyment in to be worth actually downloading regularly and it goes on my recommendations list.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Coming up in June

I'm going to try using the scheduled posting feature to make Wednesday a regular review day with a new review published each week. I have got plenty of content to do this with so I hope I'll keep that schedule up and be able to squeeze in some more podcasts. It's been interesting to look at my stats on Google Analytics and see that I do have some repeat visitors out there and a thank you to them for loyalty and I hope to keep good content coming.

Please leave comments about my posts if you feel like it as its nice to get feedback.