Gen Con Demo Table Spotlight: Tuki, Azul, and Century: A New World

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Gen Con Demo Table Spotlight: Tuki, Azul, and Century: A New World

Happy Friday, active players! Today we’re spotlighting 3 fantastic games we’ll be demoing during Gen Con at booth (say it with me) 2535! No time to waste on a snappy intro, let’s talk games!

 

Tuki -Next Move Games

Have you ever wanted to play Tetris with real blocks? Do you like games that require spatial awareness and puzzle-solving? If you answered yes, you’ll love Tuki.

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Your goal is to be the fastest to build a Tukilik, a 3-D object that denotes certain meanings in the Inuit culture.  Basically, you have to make the colored blocks match the drawing on the card, and you use the white snow pieces to help support the structure. What you roll on the die determines how you set up the card and how you’re allowed to build your Tukilik. If you’re curious what this looks like, we have a video of Anne and Emily playing.

Tuki is a game that you have to play at least once. It takes less than a minute to learn, and about a minute to play a round. And I can honestly say that every single person I have shown this game to said they would play it again. Come see us at Gen Con and play a round with us! (Maybe not me specifically, I have been known to knock a tower down if I’m losing) 


Azul -Next Move Games

 Do you like games that require strategy? Do you like making moves that screw over your friends, and sometimes yourself in the process? Then you should stop by and try Azul.

Photo by The Review Board

Photo by The Review Board

In this game,you’re collecting different types of (beautifully designed) tiles trying to create sets. You are all pulling from the same pile set, so turn order is key, as is what group of tiles you choose. The theming is simple, and I’ve mentioned before that it’s a great game for people who have tried super easy board games and are ready to try something with a bit more meat. 

This game requires a lot of strategy, and you get better the more you play. But luckily, we’ll have it available for purchase as well as demo.

 

Century: A New World- Plan B Games

Do you like worker placement games? Do you like the other Century games? Then Century: A New World is the game you should come try!

The final installment in the Century series debuted at Origins and sold out in the early hours of day 2. In this game, you’re placing workers and cubes, and then swapping them out to upgrade to better cubes to earn victory points. Century: A New World is an excellent introduction to the worker placement genre, and as Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower said, it’s easy to learn and turns go by quickly, so you are constantly engaged. 

 

 

 

All three of these games will be in rotation at our booth, and that schedule should be released next week. So stay tuned, check back, and let us know which games you’re most looking forward to!

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Gen Con Demo Table Spotlight: Catch the Moon and Men at Work

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Gen Con Demo Table Spotlight: Catch the Moon and Men at Work

Active players, we have so many games that we’re going to be demoing at Gen Con (at booth 2535, are you tired of us saying that yet?) that we’re going to have to spotlight multiple games in the same post.

Today we’re focusing on Catch the Moon and Men at Work!

 

Catch the Moon- Bombyx Games

This one is incredibly simple to learn: Your goal is to stack a bunch of ladders to reach the moon, but you don’t want to knock the ladders over or the moon will cry because of your clumsiness. On your turn, you will add a ladder to the stack. You roll the die and it shows you one ladder, two ladders, or a moon. For one, the ladder you add must only touch one existing ladder. For two, it must touch exactly two existing ladders. For the moon symbol, you may touch one or two existing ladders, but your ladder must be the highest in the stack. Every time you knock part of the stack over or you don’t complete your task (if your ladders touches two but you rolled one, for example) you collect a Moon Tear. Once the last ladder is placed or the last tear is collected, the player with the least number of tears wins!

Seriously it’s that easy. And a little bit stressful.

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As you can see by my face, it’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s definitely fun. Swing by and try not to make the moon cry! We will have Catch the Moon available for demo and purchase every day of Gen Con.

 

Men at Work- Pretzel Games

“Okay Risa,” you say, “I like dexterity games, but I want something with a little more challenge. Something with different-sized pieces and parts.” I hear you, all of you. And I am here to offer the perfect option: Men at Work.

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In this game you are building a construction site. A very safe construction site I might add, because safety violations are how you lose the game. Depending on the card you draw you’ll place a beam, a girder (a longer beam), a worker, a brick, or a worker holding a brick or a beam. Your goal is to keep building, using only one hand, without knocking anything over, which would get you a safety violation. Too many violations and you’re out of the game.

 That’s just an overview, it’s a little more intricate than that, but not by much! To learn more, come by the booth (#2535) and we’ll be happy to show you! Men at Work is going to be one of our rotating games so check back soon for our updated Gen Con schedule, which will include what games will be at the tables on what days. If you really want to learn this game and you’re only going to be there a specific day, let us know! We can’t promise anything, but if there is a demand for a particular game on a particular day, we will definitely take note.

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Gen Con Demo Table Spotlight: Tokaido

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Gen Con Demo Table Spotlight: Tokaido

Gen Con is just 2 weeks away! Where did the time go? We still have so much to talk about but this week we’re going to spotlight some of the games that are going to be at our demo tables at booth #2535 available both to try and to buy. 

 

First up is Tokaido by Fun Forge!

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 The goal of the game: Have the most fulfilling journey as you travel the Eastern Road (Tokaido) from Kyoto to Teppan (modern-day Tokyo). Yeah. The winner of the game is the one who had the best time. And also earns the most victory points, but each point is representative of a fun experience so the point stands. Whoever has the most fun wins!

As you travel along the Tokaido you can stop at various locations like souvenir shops, temples, hot springs, and inns. You can also stop and enjoy the landscape or have a conversation with a local. Each experience gives you something, be it victory points, money, or opportunities to score victory points at a later time. And a very cool component that sets this game apart is that you can never share a space with another player, and whoever is farthest behind on the road gets to go first. So there really is a lot of strategy involved and many different ways to win (or prevent your friends from winning if you’re a competitive player whyiseveryonesuddenlylookingatme?)

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 I played Tokaido recently with two people who don’t play a lot of board games. They told me it had just the right amount of rules in that it required strategy, but you didn’t get overwhelmed or forget different things you could do. They also said the fact that the cards themselves, and their places on the board, gave you reminders of what those cards did, so we didn’t have to constantly consult the rulebook. That’s always a good sign, when you feel challenged but not overwhelmed, and you want to play again to get better.

 

Tokaido is a game that has been out for a bit, in fact, last year it released its 5th anniversary edition. It has 2 expansions and a collector’s accessory pack that replaces the cardboard coins with metal coins, and the colored meeples with minis of each traveler (that I want to paint! Which is huge for me, see our My Little Pony post for my thoughts on mini painting).  It also comes with a CD of music that fits perfectly with the theme. All of these should be available at our booth, so you can start or expand your collection as you see fit.

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 So, are you excited yet? Will Tokaido be one of the games you’ll be trying out with us at Gen Con? Let us know!

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Metallic Dice Giveaway!

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Metallic Dice Giveaway!

Happy Friday, active players! Today we’re going to spotlight one of our incredible partners that contributed to our Mega Game Basket Giveaway that we’re running from August 1-4.

Metallic Dice Games offers premium gaming dice and accessories. They have dice of different materials, from acrylic, to metallic, to gemstone, in various fonts and colors. They offer mega d20’s and miniature full sets; they even have glow-in-the-dark and unicorn dice! They also have velvet lined dice trays and bags to keep both your dice and your table safe. In short, if you’re looking for something specific, they probably have it. Or if you’re like me and you want the dice to speak to you and tell you what kind of character they’re meant for, there’s a lot of beautiful options to choose from.


In our Mega Game Basket Giveaway (I always imagine a reverb every time I type that), we are giving away several different sets of dice from Metallic Dice Games, along with accessories like dice trays. All you have to do to win is sign up for our mailing list, which you will be able to do here starting August 1st, so save the link. 

Metallic Dice Games has also generously offered to donate $200 to our Roll 4 Child’s Play charity drive (which you can donate to here) once we reach $1,000. 

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“But wait”, you say! “I really want to win these dice! How can I increase my chances?” If you will be attending Gen Con, stop by our booth (#2535) and donate in person! We’ll be giving away our limited-edition APN d6’s as a thank you for the donation (1 for $5, 2 for $10 or 4 for $15). If you take a picture/video of your dice and post it to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #Roll4ChildsPlay you’ll have a chance to win a set of resin dice and a dice tray from Metallic Dice Games! We’ll be selecting the posts that have the highest number of likes for both Instagram and Twitter, so start telling your friends about it now so they can boost your numbers (it’s not cheating, these dice are really cool).

 

Active players, we are so excited about this Mega Game Basket Giveaway and we hope you are too. Keep your eyes on this blog and follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube so you don’t miss any updates on the giveaway, the Roll 4 Child’s Play charity drive, all of our Gen Con antics, and the latest news about new and upcoming games.

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Player Character Spotlight- The Storytelling Specialist

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Player Character Spotlight- The Storytelling Specialist

I’m constantly reminded of how many different ways there are to “play”, and I love getting to talk with people who game in different ways than I do. Today’s interview is with Ian Magnusson, who specializes in RPGs of all kinds, from tabletop, to video games, to LARPs. 

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RP: Tell me a little about yourself!

IM: My name is Ian Magnusson, I am a New Jersey transplant living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have been gaming since the summer of 2000, unless you are counting video games which I have been playing since the mid-90s. My day job is at the up-and-coming Milwaukee Brewing company, but I am more excited for my weekends working as an actor for Renaissance Entertainment Productions at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. 

 

RP: What got you into gaming?

IM: As far back as I can remember I have enjoyed video games, specifically adventure and RPG games deep with story, but in the summer of 2000 I was working as a camp counselor when I got my first opportunity to play in a game of D&D and that changed my focus forever. At the end of my freshman year of college, I was invited to try out a LARP and ever since I have devoted as much time and energy to the worlds we create in games as possible. I have dabbled in online gaming of several kinds, mostly MMORPG's and MOBA's.

 

RP: Tell me a little bit about that first D&D game you ever played. Were you excited? Nervous? 

IM: My first game of D&D was very exciting. It was my first year as a camp counselor and the game was being run and played by some of the coolest older staff members and I was the youngest person allowed to join. The whole process was so exciting. It was a simple homebrew game where we were impetuous adventurers investigating strange occurrences in the sewers below a small city. I was playing a chaotic good elf cleric of the God of the Elves, Corellon Larethian. The character was little more than a bolder version of myself in a lot of ways, but it taught me so much about making choices. The game started a little after our season started and ended at the end of season unfinished, but it will always be one of my most fond memories of gaming.

RP: What are some of your favorite games to play now?

IM: There are so many different kinds of games I love, so to keep it simple I will name only a few from three major categories: electronic, tabletop, and live action. 

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time will always hold a special place in my heart, and Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic showed how much story and choice can mean to a game.

For Tabletop, I thoroughly enjoy Pathfinder for all its customizability, Fate system for how open it is, and Betrayal at the House on the Hill for its replayable zaniness.

Live action I love Nocturne LARP for its rich story, Oblivion LARP for its unique rules system, and Vampire: the Masquerade for politics.

 

RP: Based on your game selections I can tell storytelling is huge for you. What makes a good story? 

IM: A good story should make you think. Either you should question why you act, believe, or do the things you do, or they should make you feel reassured about them. Sometimes a good twist in the story can really take it up a notch, but subverting expectations solely for the purpose of subverting them is pointless. There is a reason that we tell the same few stories over and over again in new ways. Morality and virtues examined through narrative are powerful tools.

There are many aspects and directions that make for a "good" story. I often prefer stories that have strong archetypal characters, stories that examine what is important. Another hugely important part of a good story is a consistent, well-fleshed out world. Personally, I don't have a lot of need for "realism," just believability. Stories that focus on a world of grey where there is no good and evil are not nearly as interesting as stories with more stark contrast. That is not to say that heroes should not be flawed, and villains should not have redeeming qualities, but that those aspects of them should not outweigh their more core facets. Also, I like to like characters. It is hard for me to care about what is going to happen next in a story if I don't care about who it is happening to.

 

RP: How is storytelling different in an RPG or LARP versus a video game?

IM: For me, one of the most important differences in storytelling between tabletop RPGs, LARPs, and video games is how defined your "walls" are. When running a tabletop game, I try to leave the options for what happens next as wide open as possible. Alternatively, I find with video games when I have too many options, I don't feel drawn to do any of them. I much prefer games that have a robust set of side quests with a clear central story to true sandboxes. It's hard to get a good feeling of pace when the game does not instill any sense of urgency and just lets you wander. Ironically, the exact opposite is true of the tabletop games I enjoy most. I like the opportunity to explore a world unfettered with the mind of a person guiding the flow of the story as you go is just better. Maybe someday a computer will be able to keep up with the story, but that day is not today. 

RP: Do you consider gamer an integral part of your identity?

IM: I do, I love games and they comprise a lot of who I am. I feel that escaping the doldrums of working at a job I don't love, paying taxes, and the like, to worlds where good and evil clash,and the fate of the world is decided by me, is necessary for my sanity. 

 

RP: Doldrums is an excellent word and I am 100% going to borrow it. Do you find that working through difficult themes in a game helps you deal with difficult things in your real life?

The feelings that I get when gaming really do a lot to help me get through the hard times. The feeling of accomplishment I get when I get through a particularly hard aspect of a video game that was giving me trouble. The feeling of hope that I get when giving or hearing a rousing speech at a LARP before a big battle. The feeling of importance when the king sends the party out on an epic quest to save the world in a D&D campaign. I guess for me it is less about direct correlation between my real-life issues to what I accomplish with my gaming, and more about what gaming helps to bring out in myself to deal with daily troubles.

Then again, tools that I develop in gaming can assist with other aspects of my life. Things like developing clear, concise communication with a team, learning resource management, troubleshooting issues with out-of-the-box thinking, and what makes a good leader, are all skills I have honed through gaming.

 

RP: Are there any Friendly Local Game Stores you frequent?

We actually have a really cool place called Board Game Barrister that my fiancée like to frequent. They have a few locations, a nice selection of games with awide variety of play types, a knowledgeable friendly staff, and most importantly they are welcoming to all. I am much happier giving my business to them knowing that they take as good care of their customers as possible, regardless of gender, age, or experience.

 

RP: Do you have any advice for people looking to get started with gaming?

IM: Find communities that promote being a nerd in any fashion and you will find they harbor people who game.

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Get the Game- Imhotep: The Duel

Who else has trouble finding good 2 player games? We just found a great one with Imhotep: The Duel by Thames & Kosmos. Anne got to learn how to play this fun spin on an already cool game in our last Get the Game episode from Origins 2019. Imhotep: The Duel releases on August 1st at your FLGS and at Gen Con!

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What is Child's Play?

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What is Child's Play?

Happy Tuesday, active players! We’re hoping you’re getting hype for Gen Con, and for our Child’s Play charity drive, #Roll4ChildsPlay. Remember, while you can of course donate at the convention at booth 2535, online donations are happening now. Mind Clash Games is going to be matching the first $500 raised and Metallic Dice Games will be adding an additional $200 once we make it to $1,000. 

 But what IS Child’s Play, you may ask? (No, not the movie with the doll)

 

What is Child’s Play? 

 

Child’s Play is a charity designed to bring games (both video and tabletop) to children’s hospitals and domestic abuse shelters across the United States. They currently work with over 180 hospitals, and they continue to grow as gamers like you continue to help.

 As gamers, we are all aware of the ways in which playing games help us unwind, or destress, or distract ourselves from the anxiety in our lives. We kick back with a video game on the couch, we meet with friends to play a board game, we play online with our friends. Now imagine you’re a child in a hospital. Suddenly those games become even more important than they already were; that need to destress or distract yourself is even more understandable. Having a game at that moment can be momentous. Hospitals are scary, even for adults. And you really don’t think about how crucial having that distraction, or that feeling of normalcy in this chaotic environment, can be until you’ve experienced it yourself. 

Child’s Play works directly with hospitals to provide them exactly the games they’re looking for, which kids can then check out like a library book to use in their rooms, or they can play together in playrooms. One testimonial stated, “last year two teenage boys were able to game together from their rooms even though they were often in isolation and rarely saw each other in person.” For those children on bedrest, the games become exponentially more necessary. Another added that the video game systems, “allow our older patients to enjoy their time at the hospital, forget the often (physically and emotionally) painful conditions/treatment, and spend time with their brothers, sisters, and visiting friends like they did at home.” You can read more testimonials from hospital employees and parents here.

“What’s interesting about the program is that the majority of our donations don’t come from corporate sponsors or corporate contributors, they come from individuals” -Robert Khoo, former Managing Director for Child’s Play

This charity is for gamers and it supported by gamers. We who play are the backbone for this organization and our donations keep it running and help these kids. We at APN are so excited to be able to give back and support this wonderful charity. 

 

#Roll4ChildsPlay

At booth 2535 at Gen Con, we will be giving out limited edition APN D6’s as a thank you for your donations. For $5 you get 1 die, for $10 you get 2 dice, and for a donation of $15 or more you’ll get 4 d6’s, which is the perfect amount to roll up a new RPG character (we suggest they have a love of pineapples). We will also have some Child’s Play swag to give out, and we will be around to answer any questions you may have. This is all while supplies last, so swing by and donate as soon as you can.

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To go with this dice giveaway we are using the hashtag #Roll4ChildsPlay. If you donate in person with us and receive your dice, we ask that you take a photo or video with them and use that hashtag. We will be selecting one random person using that hashtag to receive an extra prize as a thank-you for your generosity. 

If you can’t attend Gen Con this year, you can always donate online. The more we raise, the more our partners will match, so every little bit helps.

 

Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated. For those of you planning to donate at Gen Con and get those dice, let us know in the comments! Happy Rolling!

 

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What are We Demoing at Gen Con?

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What are We Demoing at Gen Con?

Making plans for Gen Con? Be sure to visit us at booth 2535! We’ll be demoing a ton of awesome games, and for the first time we’ll also have them available for purchase! Here’s a sneak peek at what we’re planning:

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Tokaido

The journey is more important than the destination with Tokaido! You play a traveler along the east sea road (what Tokaido actually means) in Japan, having wonderful experiences along the way and trying to be the player who has the best time. Tokaido is coming up on its 5th anniversary so it seems like the perfect time to help make some new fans.

 

Catch the Moon

Stack the ladders as tall as you can, and don’t let them fall or you’ll make the moon cry! We’ve demoed this game before and in doing so we’ve learned that this truly is a game for all ages. It’s super easy to learn so definitely come by and play a few rounds.

 

 

We have too many games and not enough table space, so these next four games will be on rotation at one table. Check back as we get closer to Gen Con for a complete schedule of when you can find each game.

 

Men at Work

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Men at Work is a fun little dexterity game where you’re building a “work zone” for meeples in tiny little hardhats. Follow the instructions on the cards to add to your work area: a beam, a worker, a worker holding supplies, you never know. Make sure your hard hats don’t fall off, or you’ll lose a safety certificate! It puts a new spin on the term “worker placement game”.

 

Century: New World

Plan B’s final installment of the Century trilogy, fresh from its release at Origins, will be hitting the table at the Active Player Network booth! Come learn all about this worker placement-style game and add to your Century collection.

 

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Azul

The winner of the 2018 Spiel des Jahres award, the 2017 Golden Geek Best Family Game of the Year, and many more, this tile placement game has gorgeous artwork and easy-to-learn gameplay. Azul is as stunning to look at as it is to play. If you don’t know how to play yet, come on by and we’ll show you. 

 

Tuki

It’s a race against your friends to see who can build the shape on the cards first. You use the white blocks to help support the shape of your gray, purple, blue (and yellow, if you’re playing advanced) blocks. Easy to learn but only the truly dedicated can master these shapes!

 

 

The final table at the booth will be dedicated just to card games, and we will have official Bandai staff at the booth to help teach these awesome games that will be rotating throughout the weekend. Just in time for series 7 to drop, we’ll have the very popular Dragon Ball Super card game. We will also have the Naruto Boruto cardgame, as well as the highly anticipated Godzilla Card Game due to release in September. Both of those games use the Chrono Clash game system created by renowned designer Ryan Miller. Whether you’ve played these before or you’re curious about how they work, it’s definitely a fantastic opportunity to learn from the best possible source.

 

 

 That’s it for today’s Gen Con update, active players! Keep checking back as we continue to keep you posted on everything you can look forward to. We will have an official game rotation schedule as the con gets closer, and you can always come visit us at booth 2535 once you’re there to learn more. See you there!

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Great Games for the 4th of July

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Great Games for the 4th of July

Hey Active Players! The Fourth of July is upon us, and you know what that means: America gets to get even more America-y. Barbecues, fireworks, and the tradition of throwing tea in the swimming pool. Was that last one just me? Anyway! Any holiday is a holiday for gaming, so here are 5 games with a focus on American history!

 

Century: A New World- Plan B Games

The last installment of Century from Plan B Games takes place in the Americas where you are exploring frontiers, interacting and trading with locals, and establishing trade houses. It’s an awesome worker placement game with a twist, a fantastic theme, and a lot of expansion opportunities and replayability when combined with the other Century games.

 

 

Axis and Allies- Wizards of the Coast

You’ve almost definitely heard of this one. It’s like Risk, but more complicated, and more rewarding. You’re playing as a country involved in World War II (of which the US is one) and your goal is to get your team to control the necessary amount of cities across the globe. This was one of the first strategy games ever made and it is definitely not for the new gamer. The board is as big as the rules, and it is a very cool board indeed. 

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Freedom: The Underground Railroad- Academy Games

The goal of this game is to move as many slaves as possible out of America and into Canada. Heavy stuff, there’s no doubt about that. But sometimes games are a great way to address hard topics. This was a huge part of American history that can’t be ignored just because it makes people uncomfortable. This is a fantastic game to use in a small group in a classroom (or homeschooling) both because it includes a lot of historical events and persons, and because it creates a discussion amongst players. This is a great game for families with pre-teen or teenage children for the same reason. 

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Superfight: The History Deck- Skybound Entertainment

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And now for something completely different. Let’s yell at each other over which historical figures would win in a fight: Alexander Hamilton riding an armored bear versus Andrew Carnegie who breathes fire! That’s it: that’s the whole game. Argue with your opponent about why you’re right, and let the other players choose the winner. This expansion also includes blue location cards (in case you want to fight at the Grand Canyon) or purple attributes which are a requirement to use. Nothing says America like yelling about how right you are; so embrace it and get to fighting!

 

Marvel: Legendary Deck Building Game (Specifically the Captain American 75th Anniversary Expansion) - Upper Deck

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The star-spangled man with a plan wants YOU to save the world! Legendary is a deck-building game with a very strong theme and tons of expansions. It’s a great choice for fans of Marvel, fans of deck-builders, and fans of cooperative games. And it’s Captain AMERICA so you have to play it on the 4th of July, right??

 

Will any of you be playing games on this holiday weekend? Comment and let us know!

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APN is going to Gen Con!

Happy July, Active Players! We are exactly one month away from Gen Con 2019 and we have a LOT of news for you.

Our Booth

This year APN will have our own booth: booth 2535! We’ll be running two amazing events, we’ll be doing Player Character Spotlight interviews (if you’re going to be at Gen Con and would like to be interviewed, fill out our application here), we’ll be doing Get the Game episodes, and we’ll be hanging out with all you incredible Active Players, so come stop by and say hi! We’ll be demoing some incredible games as well: Tokaido from Fun Forge, Catch the Moon by Bombyx, Tuki by Next Move Games, Century: New World by Plan B Games, Azul by Next Move Games, Men at Work by Pretzel Games, and the Godzilla Card Game by Bandai.

Keep an eye on our blog and our Facebook page for more about our two events we’ll be running. Speaking of which…

 

Roll 4 Child’s Play

This year, APN will be running a donation event for Child’s Play Charity, which brings games to children in pediatric hospitals and domestic abuse shelters. You can donate online or in-person at booth 2535. If you donate in person you can also receive one of our awesome APN D6’s, as well as opportunities for Child’s Play swag! If we raise $1000 by the end of the weekend, our partners at Metallic Dice and Mind Clash Games will be kicking in additional funds as well. We are so excited to get to support such an incredible organization and we hope you are too! We have started accepting online donations now so click here to get the ball rolling, or leave a comment if you plan to donate at Gen Con.

 

APN Mega Game Basket Giveaway 

We are doing a HUGE giveaway thanks to our friends at Child’s Play Charity, Portal Games, Metallic Dice, Leder Games, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Gamelyn Games - and more! During Gen Con (August 1-4) you can sign up for our mailing list to learn more about upcoming game releases, conventions, new episodes of Get The Game, Player Character Spotlight, and more. Us folks here at APN want to keep you informed about all things in the gaming world and joining our mailing list makes it that much easier on both sides. So you get a chance to stay in the loop AND you get the chance to win a giant basket of games! The winner will be randomly selected the week after Gen Con, and we’ll mail your package to you. You don’t have to be AT Gen Con to sign up or to win. Keep an eye on this page as we get closer to the event to learn more.

 

That’s it for now! What are you most excited about? Will we see you at Gen Con this year? Make sure to let us know!

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Get the Game- Brikks

"There are those days where I wish it was game day, and it’s not, and I just want to amuse myself without looking at a screen, and this is perfect for that!" -Anne talking about Brikks by Stronghold Games. Lovingly referred to as Tetris: The Roll and Write, and available now at your FLGS.

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Get the Game- Lanterns Dice

All the fun of the original Lanterns, now as a roll-and-write! Color in the right lanterns and emerge victorious. Anne sits down with Teri from Renegade Game Studios to learn more about Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky

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Player Character Spotlight- The Artistic DM

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Player Character Spotlight- The Artistic DM

Gamers tend to be some of the most creative and artistic people around. This week I sat down with Justin Osterling, a comic book artist and recreational Dungeon Master, to chat about using role-play to cope with hard times, and how when you can’t find representation at a table, you make it yourself.

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Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into the gaming hobby?

Hi, my name is Justin Osterling and I’m a comic artist and fantasy illustrator currently working on an announced project with Oni Press! Oh man, I think it must have been around 7-8th grade I found an old D&D starter set in my best friends closet and asked if we could play it. We got a few friends together and it just fell super flat with us since we were all obsessed with video games and none of us really understood how to play. For some reason it just really stuck with me and I’d hound him all the time for years about wanting to try again! Eventually, he just gave me the box and it wasn’t until we were in our twenties that we tried again and totally fell in love. I’ve been hooked to tabletop RPG’s ever since!

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 As an artist, how important is artwork in a game to you? Can you forgive a game’s mechanics for their great art or vice versa?

Personally, all the art really does is draw me in to see what the game is about. I’ve definitely bought games just for their art that I don’t play (it’s sort of like having a painting up) but it’s never the biggest thing for me. At the end of the day, the game actually being fun is always going to be the most important part. The art is there to catch your interest and help communicate the intent of the game. Though I do appreciate that there’s been a really big push from tabletop developers to really go the extra lengths to hire talented artists for their games! We’re in a gaming renaissance and it’s really starting to show visually and creatively. 

 

Are there any specific types of games you look to play or collect?

I’m really into party games where you hold back information from other players or try to scheme your way to victory like Sheriff of Nottingham or One Night Ultimate Werewolf! It’s just a blast to team up with other players only to betray them at the very end to pull ahead for that lead! It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise I normally play rogue in my tabletop games too!


What are some of your favorite games/RPGs?

Dungeons and Dragons (5E) and Shadowrun are definitely some of my favorites. Shadowrun for its setting and D&D for its mechanics (I usually home-brew my setting so it stays fresh for me). Though I’ve been really digging Monster of the Week that’s recently gained popularity and I’ve been dying to play a game of The Dracula Dossier! My non favorite non-RPG’s are currently Dice Forge (though I’m very, very bad) and Unearth, which has some of the most gorgeous art I’ve seen in a tabletop game.

What got you into RPGs?

Growing up I actually had a really rough childhood, between a rough divorce and distant siblings, RPG’s just fascinated me because it was a way for me to escape everything and finally be the hero I had been reading about in fantasy novels. Once I got older, I got really into telling stories and RPG’s became this place where I could experiment with storytelling and see what kind of stories people wanted to hear! Especially as more classical forms of storytelling started getting more and more outdated. 

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Do you prefer being the Dungeon Master or playing? What have you learned from doing both?

That’s actually a tough question. After 10 years of being a dungeon master, I’m finally getting my chance to be a consistent player, which is way less stressful, but I find myself daydreaming in the middle of games on how I would approach each session. So, I guess DMing is just part of who I am now! 

The biggest thing I learned from doing both is to be flexible with the story I want to tell and create characters that fit each campaign. If I know we’re going to play a mystery, I’ll roll up a detective with a backstory that’s at least tied to the events of the mystery. Often times I see players make blanket fantasy adventurers who aren’t connected in any way to the campaign and then get really frustrated when they feel like their character isn’t getting enough attention. 

 

How important is representation in games, both in a general sense and on a personal level? How do you include representation at your table? 

Representation has, for a large part of my life, always been important to me. Being naturally drawn to fantasy and sci-fi but never seeing someone who looked like me was a disconnect, I could never really fantasize myself in those worlds. If other people weren’t going to create settings or games that didn’t have people like me, then I was going to do it myself! The Hispanic/Latin community isn’t really one that’s thought about in fantasy, though we do get some representation in more sci-fi settings, though mostly as soldiers (which is an entirely different discussion to be had). So, to bring in as much of a mixing pot of cultures that I could, most of my own settings take place in metropolises. I was raised in Phoenix, which is one of the largest cities in America, which let me meet so many different people with different backgrounds and I loved that energy. I wanted to replicate that same level of energy, so that way anyone could be anything they wanted at my table and do it safely. I’ve never felt the need to be edgy or push boundaries, just let people be who they want to imagine and be the heroes they are. 


Do you consider gamer an integral part of your identity?

I mean, I have “Roll 1d20” in Dwarven runes tattooed across my knuckles so I guess you could say that I find it pretty important in my life.

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How do you find people to play with?

Walk around outside, shaking a jar of dice, and yelling “WHO WANTS TO PRETEND TO BE AN ELF?!” as loud as possible. If that doesn’t work, I usually just introduce the idea of it to the people in my immediate life. You’d be surprised by the number of people who have either already played D&D or have always wanted to but have no idea how to start. The most interesting characters and people I’ve had the joy to play with were people who know almost nothing about fantasy. They aren’t held back by the stereotypes that we’ve all seen or played as.

You can follow Justin on Instagram at @iamjustino and Twitter at @ohnoJustinO

If you enjoyed this interview, please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts. If you would like to be featured as a Player Character, please fill out our application here!

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Get the Game- Century: A New World

The final installment of Century is here! For those who are already a fan of Century, or for those who have never played a version before, Century: A New World from Plan B Games is an excellent addition to your gaming collection. Check out Anne’s coverage from Origins Game Fair 2019!

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What happened at Origins Game Fair?

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What happened at Origins Game Fair?

Last week we journeyed to Columbus, Ohio for the 44th annual Origins Game Fair. The atmosphere was amazing from demo tables packed with excited active players to the Columbus Pride Parade marching by the convention center on Saturday with the support of citizens and gamers alike.

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If Gen Con seems like “a lot” to you, then Origins might be the perfect show for you to get your feet wet. You can easily walk the entire show floor to get a feeling for where everything is and then plan which demos you’d like to try during the course of the event. WizKids ran painting classes all weekend long, True Dungeon had three different adventures to try, and there were plenty of tables for rpgs and rooms dedicated to LARP. There are countless events in the evening and great food nearby, including the infamous Jeni’s Ice Cream, of which we absolutely availed ourselves.

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APN made eight new episodes of Get the Game covering Unicorn Glitterluck Cloudstacking, Century: A New World, the Clank! Acquisitions Incorporated Upper Management Pack, Lantern’s Dice, Imhotep the Duel, EXIT: Catacombs of Horror, Subtext, and Brikks! You can look for those to roll out over the next few weeks on our YouTube Channel, so make sure you’re subscribed

We also got to demo a few games and walk the show floor. We added an album of our exploits to Facebook and saved our Instagram story from the show so that you can get a front row seat to our adventures. 

Will we see you at Gen Con this year? Let us know in the comments!

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Player Character Spotlight- The Meta Game Designer

Gamers are all around us, and I was reminded of this when I was chatting with a co-worker of mine from when I was a bartender. Aura and I had known each other for weeks, talking about all sorts of random nonsense, before I even knew they played games. So it seemed perfect that they would be one of the first people I chatted with about prioritizing play in your life. I’m so glad I did, because I was reminded about how problem-solving in games can help you problem-solve in real life, which is a much needed reminder for many. Active players, I present to you my interview with Aura Belle, game designer and podcast producer in Savannah, GA.

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RP: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into the gaming hobby?

AB: My name is Aura Belle, I'm a non-binary femme (they/she pronouns), and I've been role-playing since I was very, very young. My brother used to play D&D with his friends and I would watch, trying my best to understand a game with no board or pieces, yet dice for some reason. And people just kinda saying whatever they want. I started playing all kinds of games as I got older, then eventually got into the game design scene a few years back, as well as publishing an Actual Play podcast with my group called Vantage Point of Death, which you can find on iTunes, Google podcasts, and most other places.

RP: Cards on the table, you and I know each other from a previous, unrelated job, but you never told me you were in game design! Tell me more.

AB: I made my first official game called Producers back in 2014. I still play it at parties. You play the part of movie idea pitchmen, suggesting movies to the group at large, except the specifics are fed to you by the other players so you get these really stupid, off-the-wall ideas that you have to defend. It's a lot of fun and the success and support of it led me to keep going with other things. I had a long-running Patreon which gave me about 1/3 of my monthly net income. There I made games about queer sex, gender identity, loneliness and connection, and our expectations of each other as people.

In addition to the podcast I've published several games (most under the name Caitlynn Belle) including Our Radios Are Dying (which has been played on multiple podcasts), Singularity, a transhuman and gender non-conforming dating sim released through Ginger Goat Games, and A Real Game, which won the 2016 IGDN Game of the Year award at Gen Con. It's a game rulebook that you print out that instructs you how to play itself, except as time goes on, this stack of paper gets existential dread about its purpose and fear about its inadequacy as a game. It gets really meta. 

RP: Your games sound super unique, where do you get your inspiration?

AB: As I was making games, I was interested in playing with the form of "a game" itself, trying to find new ways to present play and new topics to explore. I talked about my stuff early on in an episode of the Backstory podcast (which is a very good podcast) hosted by Alex Roberts. I took a lot of influence from performance art and works of art that played with their own physical form or demanded special interaction from the viewer. I was looking for something that engaged back instead of simply being on display.

Queerness is a big part of everything I make. I have trouble viewing the world through cishet eyes, so I make characters that see the world how I do. I want beautiful, messy queer entanglement, gender exploration, non-traditional relationship structures, and really just people who look like my wonderful queer friends. A lot of what I make demands that you make it queer and abandons you if you won't. A lot of them require movement, because I need to move to think. And they're all more or less about one person needing to communicate someone with others but not necessarily knowing how, and the problems that arrive from that.

 

RP: What are some of your favorite games and why?

Fall of Magic is a big favorite of mine and my group. We play it once a year in the holiday season, it's become tradition. It's a role-playing game about how magic is dying in the world and this powerful wizard is travelling across the lands and the ocean to the birthplace of magic to try to figure out what's what, and everyone plays their companions accompanying them. You play the game on a large scroll map, unraveling it as you go to explore new lands. It's absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking and conjures such strong visuals. It lets you play with metaphor and imagery naturally and lets you dig into the identities of these characters who start out as vague brush strokes and become just these beautiful, heart-breaking narratives by the end of it all. I've cried so much playing that game.

RP: Are there any types of games you haven’t played that you would like to?

AB: I have a soft spot for games about armies and conquests, things like War of the Ring or even Twilight Struggle. I'm not really a history or military nerd so I don't know why I like them so much, maybe it's just the scale. But I'd really like to dig into more of those. Especially miniature games, I'd love to build and paint squadrons and move them around these big, tactical maps, I'm all about that. 

RP: Do you consider gamer an integral part of your identity?

AB: I consider myself someone who sees "play" as a necessary part of human life, be you child or adult. It's something you need to tease your imagination with. You never stop needing to play, but most people fall out of it. So, in the sense of looking for ways to filter life experiences through mechanics and narrative, I would say so. 

RP: What is the relationship between gaming and your mental health?

AB: A lot of my gaming history and design philosophy comes from the indie publishing scene that surged out in the mid 2000s. This kind DIY ethic of making sad, strange little games that examine what big publishers wouldn't. All of the games I've designed have, in some way, been about myself - about personal trauma, or loneliness, or my need to communicate, but my desire not to. Embodying a character and playing out experiences I can't parse effectively helps me get a new perspective on it, and writing about things I don't know how to talk about has been invaluable. I'm an anxious wreck, but I would be more of one had I not had a bunch of weird game designer friends out here making weird games about queer identity, love, and isolation. 

RP: How do you balance gaming with your real life?

AB: Not very well. I used to attend regular board game meetups, but with working multiple jobs and everyone getting older, those fell by the wayside. My podcast group and I basically force ourselves to find time to get together and record, but it's not always easy. It can be hard! That's a running joke about role-playing groups, the hardest part is getting together on a schedule that works for everyone. You have to make concessions one way or the other. 

RP: Do you have any advice for people looking to get started with gaming?

AB: Hit up game stores and meet people and try to go to a local con if you can. Cons can be stressful, but they're also usually fun. You get a lot of energy and inspiration from it. Try different things also - I know several role-players who have never tried any other games besides D&D, for example, and are shocked to find out there's this entire world of millions of cool games out there. Keep yourself open.

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this interview, please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts. If you would like to be featured as a Player Character, please fill out our application here!

 

 

 

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