Category Archives: Gaming

weekly rounds

  • At the risk of inducing a recursive weekly roundup loop, it seems that Overlords Johnson and Miller are starting up a Friday Minion Roundup feature on the retooled Secret Lair site. Everyone involved is stupefyingly talented, which makes this an imperative thing for you to check out.
  • Jim has threatened to hit us with a weekly dose of critical gaming links on The Vintage Gamer, and he is making good on said threat. The only thing more interesting and awesome than the information he’s corralling together is Jim himself (which sets said bar orbitally high), so I command you to go and read.

Hail, Miskatonic!

Propnomicon is a Cthulhu aficionado of great refinement and education, as well as a propmaker extraordinaire.  His website is an amazing resource not only for tutorials on how to make period-specific props that evoke both Lovecraftian and other horror themes, but also to showcase his own brilliant work, and the excellent projects and how-to’s of other designers that he has come across.  I am particularly fond of his “things in a bottle,” several of which I am fortunate to own, and grace the desk in my office at the hospital:

Miskatonic Parasite Specimen, photo: Propnomicon
Miskatonic Parasite Specimen - front view, photo: Propnomicon
Miskatonic Parasite Specimen - side view, photo: Propnomicon
Miskatonic Parasite Specimen - side view, photo: Propnomicon

Recently, he has unveiled the sheet music for the official school song of Miskatonic University – “Hail, Miskatonic.”  John Cmar (class of 1826), my ancestor and namesake, co-wrote this catchy and popular piece. Click through the image to view the original post and get the full high-resolution sheet music:

Hail, Miskatonic - page 1, image: Propnomicon
Hail, Miskatonic - page 1, image: Propnomicon
Hail, Miskatonic - page 2, image: Propnomicon
Hail, Miskatonic - page 2, image: Propnomicon

Be sure to check out his website for more Cthulhian goodness, as well as his Miskatonic University expedition swag on Zazzle and sundry goods on eBay.  Today, he has posted a limited edition Miskatonic University Prop Set for sale, which is exceptionally cool:

Miskatonic University Prop Set, photo: Propnomicon
Miskatonic University Prop Set, photo: Propnomicon

It’s limited to a run of 100 copies, so if you have any interest, I highly recommend you check it out.

Naught But Dust

Dust by Fantasy Flight Games

Last week i09 had a brief look at Dust, Fantasy Flight‘s new strategy board game. It was one of our Origins acquisitions, and is very high on my “needs to be played” list. We first noticed it at the the Adventure Retail booth on Sunday morning, where it was labeled with the following post-it note:

“Did not win the Origins Award, but did place 1st in the swimsuit competition.”

Attention thus attracted, and with some positive information from Mario, I am unashamed to say that my thought process was as follows:

“Prominently illustrated women with WWII style costumery and large guns -> alternate history with mechs and alien technology -> global domination -> over 800 fiddly bits -> squee! WANT”

And so it came to pass that said game was made ours. (Laura‘s thought process was startlingly similar, although perhaps without the “illustrated women” factor.) With the shorter version of gameplay weighing in at two hours for experienced players, it may be awhile before we have a chance to break it out, but you’ll get a report when we do. More information on Dust can be found here and here. Image by: Fantasy Flight Games

io9 on Origins

Dastardly work and events of this week have prevented me from finishing my Origins recap as of yet, although that will be up in the very near future, and be a wondrous thing to behold. Until then, feast on io9’s coverage of Origins, namely over some cool things that I didn’t have the chance to check out personally:

  • Martian Chess – Yet another Looney Labs game that incorporates those darn Treehouse pieces. Like many of their games, it sounds simple, but appears to have some interesting tactical depth underlying it.
  • Terrorwerks – I have heard about this before from the Gamer: The Podcasting folks. Run for the second year in a row, it is essentially an hour-long LARP of the space marines v. alien horrors variety, where players portray said marines. The production values are intense, the reviews are great, and as such, I may need to make time for this next year.
  • Astrosmash – A massive tabletop tactical space battle game with deliciously detailed miniatures, based on a expanded version of Silent Death. It sounds completely over-the-top and a hell of a lot of fun.
  • Car Wars: Rogue Arena – Vehicular combat. A 12-foot by 8-foot miniature city block. Wrecks and carnage. Yes.

For those of you in the US, have a fun and safe July 4th!

Origins Is ON

Laura and I will be headed out to Origins shortly. Or, for Natalie‘s benefit, and as I’ve been intoning recently on Twitter:

“Going to Origins today! Squee! Squee! Squee! Squee! *duck* *WHOOSH* Missed me! Bahahaha! *zip*”

To say that I am vastly looking forward to Origins is a bit of an understatement. It is focused on “table top” gaming of all flavors, which is a favorite hobby of mine. Somehow, despite the fact that it has been held annually an hour and a half from my hometown since 1996, I have never gone, and this is a much belated opportunity to correct said serious transgression. And perhaps most importantly, this will be the first convention this year in which I won’t be “working” at all. While I love participating and speaking at cons in various capacities, there is something to be said for just kicking back and relaxing for a few days with friends, old and new, and focusing on having fun. What? This is something called a “vacation,” you say? Interesting concept… 🙂

Updates shall appear shortly after my return. Tardy convention recaps, as well as some podcast, movie, and novel commentary, have been lingering on the sidelines, and are clamoring to be unleashed. In the meantime, if you are anywhere near Columbus, OH, over the next few days, you owe it to yourself to stop by Origins, and see what it’s about.

Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax (July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008) was best known, along with Dave Arneson, as the creator of Dungeons & Dragons in 1974. In fundamentally expanding the mechanics of standard wargames into something new and brilliant, his creation ended up spawning a new perspective on social gaming, not to mention an entire industry and cultural phenomenon.

I first stumbled across D&D while in high school, and it has strongly informed my creative pursuits ever since. While I imagine that I’d be in the same place today professionally had I never discovered D&D lo those many years ago, my life would otherwise be fundamentally different – the interests that sprung from my enthusiasm for that game have led to some of the closest relationships and fulfilling experiences of my life, that continue to this day. At the very least, Gary’s work has brought me both immense joy and personal growth.

*with gratitude and respect, a glass is raised*

Rounds for 8/15/2007

Hmmm… I continue to be impressed with how quickly time’s been zipping by. Things are getting busier at work, in large part because I’ve started supervising a rotation in evidence-based medicine – I consider this, from a pure philosophy standpoint, to be the most important contribution I can make in my job, so I’m a bit preoccupied with hammering it out into a useful thing. The other piece of distraction has been getting things straightened out as much as possible before Laura returns to the area in a couple of weeks, and we depart for the glorious madhouse that is Dragon*Con.

The North Carolina trip was wonderful, as I’ll brief you on shortly. For now, let’s say that Trinoc*coN 8 was a bit lame, while the belatedly-dubbed Murcon 2 was not.

This past weekend, I had the good fortune of blowing off a bit of steam with a couple of tribemates. Friday evening, I visited Tee and family for a relaxing evening, highlights of which included recording some audio for a couple of podcast projects, and finally trying the Remarkable and Partakable (so the bottle says) Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. This I found to be a bit less of the former and a bit more of the latter, but an excellent brew overall. We also watched the pilot episode of the SciFi Channel‘s re-imagining of Flash Gordon, which offended us so much that we recorded an impromptu special edition of the Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy about it. Be warned that the episode is, essentially, a long and geeky rant/conversation that is only tangentially related to writing, but it was quite fun to do.

Saturday evening was spent most excellently with the Command Lineage. We did a bit of gaming, and partook of a variety of tasty beverages, the highlight of which was Jim Van Verth‘s homebrewed Belgian-style weiss beer (gifted to me the previous weekend). For reasons unclear, I was viewed for much of the evening by both collies and the feline as some grafted hybrid of Dr. Dolittle and St. Francis of Assisi, as every time I sat down I found several dozens of pounds of animal drooling contentedly in my lap.

I decided to try the full-color edition of Kill Doctor Lucky as the monkey-inclusive family game of the evening, which went over fairly well. Laura and I have played it several times, and it works well with a mid-sized group in a family setting – the theme is similar to Clue, only the goal is to actually commit the murder, not solve it. The younger monkey was a bit far out of the age range, and so got to “help Dr. Cmar play” (although he clearly thought the experience was totally airwolf anyway), while the elder monkey tried his own hand at the game. Due in large part to fatigue from a long day outside, the monkeys were having a hard time focusing, so we “allowed” Command Line to win so that they could get to bed.

We finished off the night with an excellent game I’d not played before – Sunken City. Although it has several different mechanics involved in-game, it is elegantly simple to play, with a reasonable amount of strategic depth, and ended up being very enjoyable. I definitely plan on seeking this one out in the future, especially as it (somewhat unusually for a Eurogame) supports two players, although I suspect that three (as we played it) or four gives a more interesting experience.

Overall, a great recharge to the batteries, although I must admit they’re already mostly drained again… feh! That said, all is truly well. Laura continues to be well-occupied and thriving in China. Next post, the weekend of two cons recap…

Rounds for 5/24/2007 – Pre-Balticon edition

I’m leaving for Balticon today, with a plethora of gameage and libations in tow. Laura will be joining me this evening, upon return from her Colorado trip, and some degree of gibbering madness will ensue.

If you’re not going, be sure to peruse the website to check out some of what’s going on. Things I’m looking forward to? The biggest, for me at any rate, is going to be hanging out with people both podcastery and authory. Michael and Evo are special guests this year, and there’s a whole podcasting track lined up. Notable things include on-site recordings of Wingin’ It and Geek Fu Action Grip, among many others. I have the pleasure of contributing an “evil” voice to the Mr. Adventure episode being recorded there, as well!

Other notables include author guests of honor Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, as well as events surrounding our favorite sculpturist Lisa Snellings-Clark, and her PoppetPlanet project. The science track is pretty stacked as well, which is great to see.

It will also be great to see Ronnie and his wife Lora again, as they are coming out for the convention as part of a vacation trip. Hopefully we’ll get some of his local gaming friends to make the trip up as well. Not that there will be any massive time for gaming available, but one can always hope… I think we’ll try to get a group together to see the glorious mess that will be Pirates 3 on Monday evening, as well.

If you can make it out, do so! If not, we’ll be in touch on the other side…

Rounds for 5/13/2007, Mother’s Day Edition

For those whom it is appropriate, I hope your Mother’s Day has been excellent!

It seems that Laura and I were remiss as to blogging about what was going on over the past couple of days before they actually occurred, but such is the way of things. Today marks the end of Public Service Recognition Week, a component of which included exhibits on the national mall in downtown Washington, DC. NASA had a big presence there, and a big part of that involved the James Webb Space Telescope that Laura‘s been working on lo’ these many years. Northrop Grumman brought out the full-scale model on Friday and Saturday, and Laura was one of the volunteers to enhance the model with her radiant beauty, as well as answer questions and educate an eager public about the project. In a brilliantly cool outreach idea, there were also Lego models of the JWST that people could come by and assemble with volunteers, which Laura had the pleasure of working with as well. I feel like they missed an opportunity by not having said Lego sets available for purchase on-site, although they did have flyers available with information on how to obtain them online. Many thanks to everyone who came out and stopped by, including Thomas of the Command Line Podcast, as well as author Rich White.

There were also numerous other NASA related exhibits, as well as those from other areas of public service. The various military branches had a large area of tents, vehicles and equipment on display. Aside from basking in the glorious exhibits of armored death-dealing machines, including the M1A2 Abrams tank and M109A6 Paladin mobile Howitzer, I also had the pleasure of talking with a representative of the Marine Corps Systems Command about current research into new components of front line first aid kits, specifically anticoagulant dressings for major traumatic wounds. Excellent stuff!
Smaller and lesser known public service agencies were represented as well. I was particularly enamored of the Mine Safety and Health Administration booth, which included an informational booklet on mine disasters of the late 19th and early 20th century, as well as several disturbingly illustrated flyers warning children not to explore abandoned mines, ride ATV’s into sand and gravel pits, or go swimming in abandoned quarries. Venomous snakes, steep drops, and submerged razor wire and circular saw blades abound!

Expect plenty of images related to the above to crop up on Laura’s and my Flickr accounts within the next few days.

Last night we spent some time at game night at the Family Game Store at Savage Mill in Savage, Maryland. We were introduced to two games we had not previously played, namely Citadels and Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers, which we both enjoyed and look forward to playing again… in part, because Laura trounced me at both. Well, at least at Carcassonne… I also spent some time with at the nearby Ram’s Head Tavern, with some good company in the form of several former coworkers from Sinai, and some good drink in the form of Fordham’s Oyster Stout.

Finally, we saw Spiderman 3 today… I’m going to do a combo post with it and 300, but for now I’ll say that it was good, and a worthy successor to the previous two films.

Now, to sleep, and the FFF of another week!