"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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Try to get all the unicorns and their crystals into the cloud kingdom before the rain begins! It's Unicorn Glitterluck Cloud Stacking from HABA USA!
Ask your FLGS for a copy and check back with APN for more Get the Game from Origins 2019.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Whether you're a fan of Clank! or a Vital Employee, The Clank! Acq. Inc. Upper Management Pack from Renegade Game Studios, Dire Wolf Digital and Penny Arcade is a game changer! Watch Anne paint Omin, Jim, Viari, and Morgaen...
Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 16, and I don’t know about you but I think games make great gifts. Getting together to play a game is a memory-making experience, and one that you can enjoy whether you’re a gaming family or you just want to try something new. Here are a few suggestions for games to play with your dad this weekend, or any weekend because who needs an excuse to play games?
Forbidden Island- GameWright Games
Cooperative games are great if you’re trying to get people into gaming. You’re all working towards a common goal so you’re helping each other rather than competing against each other. I like Forbidden Island in particular because it’s easy to learn, there are great moving visual pieces, and you can adjust the difficulty level. You play as two to four treasure hunters traversing a sinking island, and you have to locate four artifacts and get them off the island before you find yourselves in a watery grave. Leave no man behind (no seriously, if one of you gets trapped on the island you lose). If you have a group larger than four playing or you want to add additional rules and variants, try Forbidden Desert or Forbidden Sky.
Hanabi- R&R Games
Hanabi is another cooperative game, but it has such a fascinating game mechanic that it truly is unique even amongst other cooperative games: you don’t get to see your own cards. Your goal is basically to line up 25 fireworks cards (5 different colors in order 1-5) by giving clues about what is in each other’s hands. If you play the wrong card, such as the red 3 before the red 2, your fuse gets shorter. 3 mistakes and your fireworks explode. Hanabi is a great game for communication and one of my favorites to play with new people for that very reason. You get to learn how they think. Theoretically, playing this game as a family means you’ll be in sync because you know each other, but let’s be honest, someone’s going to wind up shouting “Why didn’t you warn me I had a 5 in my hand?!” and as long as no one is super competitive, that’s part of the fun.
Munchkin- Steve Jackson Games
Okay enough with being nice, let’s start throwing monsters at each other! Munchkin’s original concept is building characters and traversing dungeons trying to be the first to level 10, and using cards in your hand to achieve your goal and stop other players from achieving theirs. It rapidly evolved from a Dungeons and Dragons theme to over 30 different genres and expansions, from pirates, to Marvel, to Rick and Morty, to Shakespeare. It’s an easy to learn game that is guaranteed to have a theme that dad will like.
Coup- Indie Boards and Cards
Bluffing games! We all fudge the truth with our families, why not make a game out of it? With Coup you’re playing various influential figures in a dystopian future and you want to be the last one standing. Each card has a different ability, but nobody knows what card you have, so you have to call people out if you think they’re using the ability for a card they don’t have. Clearly, I have a running theme here, which is Short and Sweet, but if you like the idea of any of these types of games but want a longer version, they exist, and Coup is no different. If you want a longer bluffing game, try Resistance, Resistance: Avalon, or Ultimate Werewolf (and if you want to really make a commitment, try Ultimate Werewolf: Legacy)
A Role-Playing Game. Any RPG (as long as you like it)
RPGs are great for family nights and great for all ages. You’re using your imagination, you’re communicating and thinking critically, and best of all, you’re telling a great story. If you’re an experienced player (or you’re a gaming family) you can consider a higher commitment game like Dungeons and Dragons or Starfinder. If you want something with more structure you can try an RPG in a box like Thornwatch. If you’re short on time there are plenty of one-shot options for a single game with easy-to-learn mechanics.
Okay, not all dads are going to agree to this one (mine, for example, can’t bring himself to be creative, and doing so is NOT his idea of a good time) so use your best judgment. But if you think this is something your dad would agree to, give it a try! You might be pleasantly surprised.
What games will you be breaking out this weekend?
Our friends at Die Hard Dice gave us a chance to check out some of their awesome products this past weekend, and we wanted to let all our active players in on what we found.
Dice trays are necessary for a lot of reasons: they save your dice from falling off the table, they protect your table from getting scratched or dinged up if you’re using a heavier material dice, and it is scientifically proven that you’ll get the most random dice results by letting your dice bounce off at least 2 surfaces after you let it leave your hand. Die Hard Dice’s dice trays lay flat for easy storage and transport, and then snap into tray form when you’re ready to use them. They come in multiple colors and three different shapes so you can get the exact style you’re looking for.
The Dire d20s
For the big important rolls, you need a big important die, and that’s where the dire d20 comes in. At 25mm instead of 20mm, it’s got a bigger size that makes it easier for the rest of the party to see what you roll. It definitely adds to the excitement when the entire party sees that natural 20 (or the natural 1!). One important thing to note is that if you’re going to use one of these dire d20’s you’re going to want to use a dice tray to protect your table-- these things pack a punch due to their bigger size and their metal material. Speaking of which…
The Metal Sets
There is something so immensely satisfying about the feel of heavy dice in your hand and the thud they make as they hit the table. It’s like that moment in Fellowship of the Ring when Bilbo drops the One Ring on the floor at it just stops. Not a lot of bouncing or rolling. Finality. If you want to feel that powerful, then these are the type of dice you want to own. They also come with a metal carrying case with foam inlay to keep them nice and protected. And with full sets ranging from $35 to $55, they’re not going to break your bank. Just your enemies.
The Polymer Sets
Of course, not everyone can afford the fancy metal dice, and that’s okay because Die Hard Dice also offers a huge variety of affordable, lightweight polymer dice. If you’re like Critical Role’s Laura Bailey (or APN’s own Risa) you can horde dice to your heart’s content and select the ones you’ll use for each night’s session based on how they roll or what color you’re feeling. The purple moonstone ones, in particular, have a way of glowing that we haven’t seen in polymer dice before.
If you’re looking to add to (or start) your dice collection, hit up your FLGS and pick up your own! If you do, make sure to take a picture of them and use the hashtag #activeplayer so we can see! Happy rolling!
Happy Pride Month, Active Players!
Queer representation in the gaming community has always been significant, and in a lot of ways, this seems natural. Like people who are LGBTQ+, people who game feel that they are just outside of society’s “accepted” view (though to our credit this is changing), and gamers find community together through FLGS, online communities, and conventions. And of course, manymany people who game also identify as LGBTQ+, and the combination of these two communities means a safe space for people to be who they are without fear or intimidation. Both communities talk greatly about chosen families, and that really speaks to the depth of love and acceptance we find together. Naturally, with more and more LGBTQ+ individuals not only playing games but making games, we’ve seen an encouraging increase in representation within the games we play.
RPGs have really been leading the way, with both player characters and NPCs providing a much-needed amount of diversity. Here you can find a list of 50 LGBTQ+ characters in Pathfinder. I recently finished DMing Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and the scripted NPC characters included a gender-neutral elf, a same-sex genasi couple (male in the book, changed to female in my campaign to include more female representation as well), and a trans drow. Both homebrew and official campaigns are becoming more and more inclusive, and as they should be. We’ve got worlds with magic, spaceships, shapeshifters, and fey. It’s not like you can say a queer character would be “unrealistic”. The question that seems to be on people’s minds is “Why not? If being cishet isn’t integral to this character’s story, why not write them as something else?” And in that way we are seeing a wonderful increase in both flat and round characters (“flat” meaning just-here-to-drop-a-quest-and-then-I’m-out, “round” meaning dynamic characters with growth and character arcs) that are just as representative and diverse as the world we live in.
It is admittedly a bit harder to include LGBTQ+ representation in board games because a lot of times the characters just aren’t as well developed, if they are true “characters” at all. For example, in Hanabi, you play “absent minded firework manufacturers,” but no more is said about your characters, in Tsuro, you’re abstract pieces of stone on a path, and in Sushi Go! you’re just you. There is nowhere to include representation because who you’re playing just isn’t important to the game! But for all of those examples, there are certainly times where character identity is a vital part of the game, giving you different abilities, stats, jobs, etc. Sometimes you get to flesh it out yourself and create your own character, so including representation is easy, like in Betrayal: Legacywhere each game you’re playing another member of a family through generations. However, there’s no reason that when characters are laid out for you that game developers can’t include LGBTQ+ representation. Like in the original Betrayal at House on the Hill, there could be a mention that Flash Williams has a crush on a boy in his class. I have seen the argument that in Pandemic, the Dispatcher represents a trans person through both the gender-neutral character design and the pink totem matching the shade of pink in the trans flag. Why not? It hurts no one and helps everyone who longs to see themselves represented in the games they play. Fog of Love has two alternate covers for same-sex couples. Sentinels of the Multiverse contain several LGBTQ+ characters, as noted in their bios. We’ve come a long way but we can always go further. It’s up to us as gamers to insist we go further.
For more information check out Tabletop Gaymers, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to address homophobia in the tabletop gaming community; I Need Diverse Games, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to diverse games, game designers, and intersectionality; this list of queer tabletop resources; APN’s feature on the PAX Diversity Lounge that exists at every PAX event and, of course, check with your FLGS to see if they offer any LGBTQ+ game nights or events (and if they don’t you should tell them to).
If you’re a fan of Dungeons and Dragons you’ve probably already heard about the new campaign coming out in September: Baldur’s Gate, Descent into Avernus. And if you haven’t heard about it yet, congrats! Now you have. Announced on May 17, 2019, Descent into Avernus takes you right into the first level of the nine hells as you find yourself smack in the middle of the blood war between devils and demons. We are super excited to get to explore these new campaign settings and all there is inside.
Coins coins coins
Devils don’t deal in something as unremarkably mortal as gold and platinum. Down in Avernus you’ll be bartering in Soul Coins. And no, that’s not just a cool name. You’re literally going to be carrying the souls of the damned in your pockets. And they have more than just purchasing power. You can release the soul into a Lemure to be your servant, you can leech it for HP, or you can talk to it for information about your new hellscape. But the most exciting way to use it (for you, not the soul in the coin), is to power your new Infernal War Machine.
Mad Max: Avernus
If you’ve gotten to take a peak at the Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventure book, you’ll already know that vehicle rules are becoming the new Thing, and Descent into Avernus gives us a new type of vehicle with all new rules: The Infernal War Machine. From the giant Demon Grinder to the motorcycle-like Devil’s Ride, there are all sorts of customizable options to choose from as you traverse this hellish landscape mowing down demons, creatures, and anyone else who gets in your way. Don’t worry about their dying screams piercing your ears, they’ll be drowned out by the sounds of the soul in your Soul Coin literally burning up. For the righteous adventurers you can fight the warlords who drive these giant War Machines, or for the more adventurous, you can BECOME one of these warlords.
Your soul (and pretty much anything else), is up for trade
Souls are the most powerful currency in Avernus, and you have one to barter with. You’ll be encountering tons of devils, and each one has something better to offer than the last. You can gain levels, special powers, hit points, or anything else you can think of to negotiate for. There is even talk of an archdevil that will guarantee you a natural 20 on your next death saving throw if you’ve already failed 2. Now who could say no to that? But beware: while deals may keep you alive, they may also keep you in Avernus forever. But is that really such a bad thing?
A literal fallen angel
So we’ve got cool trade mechanics, cool vehicle mechanics, and an incredible world to explore. But a story is only as good as it’s villain, and Descent into Avernus brings us Zariel: former celestial turned Archduchess and ruler of Avernus. She went into hell to end the war on her terms and wound up being so good at killing demons that Asmodeus himself offered her a job doing it full time. Whether you choose to fight her (good luck level 1-13 adventurers), or redeem her (good luck, she’s a devil), you’re sure to have some incredible roleplay encounters.
What’s got you most excited for Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus? Do you already have a character in mind? Let us know! And make sure to grab your copy from your Friendly Local Game Store when it releases September 17, 2019.
Everything's comin' up Boise at Phoenix Fire Games with brewery board game bonanzas and a focus on technology to help you find the perfect players for your table. Check out our newest episode of Friendly Local Game Stories!
If you’re an owner or a loyal member of a FLGS and interested in having your store featured, contact us on our APN Facebook page!
If you grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, you probably played with My Little Pony toys and/or watched the television show. If you existed at all in the 2010s you probably heard of/watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and perhaps again, played with the toys. This is a long-running fandom with a huge fanbase that encompasses all sorts of people. As for me, I got my very first pony, Lickety Split, when I was 6 years old, and started collecting and playing with them with a relentlessness that would be seen culturally years later with Beanie Babies (ironically, I never cared about those).
Fast forward to a few days ago, when I heard that WizKids is partnering with Hasbro to release a line of My Little Pony miniatures for painting. I was pumped! I mean, we should have seen this coming; a few years ago we saw the release of the Tales of Equestria RPG game (which Critical Role just did an AWESOME one-shot for, check it out here), the toy collection is going strong, and what’s the perfect combination of those things? Minis!
While I’m not new to RPGs, I am new to miniature painting (I’ve painted exactly one, it was at PAX Unplugged 2018; he’s a goblin named Marv, and I love him). And while I enjoy it, most of these minis are So. Darn. Tiny. My hand shakes, I’m nervous, and sometimes it’s difficult to really grasp a character when you’re just staring at a blank mini. Not to mention all the little accessories the mini holds need different colors so if you’re a casual painter you still need a good variety of paint colors. So you can understand my excitement about these MLP minis. They’re going to be bigger, they only need a handful of colors (and they’re pre-primed, so you don’t even have to worry about that!), and you can paint either your favorite Pony (announced so far has been Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Apple Jack, and Rarity) or use the base to paint your very own Pony character, perhaps for a night of playing Tales of Equestria?
What I love most about these minis is that it makes the mini painting hobby more accessible to a whole new market: kids and families. Parents and children, older and younger siblings, cousins during get-togethers, these are all great groups to paint minis with. And now you have a subject that is already in a child’s knowledge pool, (which they love talking about) so they can be even more excited to paint and spend time with the family (which adults love). It’s a win/win. I can’t help but feel that if I had started with something like this I probably wouldn’t be as intimidated by mini painting as I am today.
If you too are new to miniature painting, check out this Geek and Sundry article about how to get started. The WizKids My Little Pony miniatures release in October 2019, so make sure to let your Friendly Local Game Store know you want some in stock! Are you as excited about this as I am?
All the way from Alaska, Gateway Games is helping their community combat isolation and depression with board games.
Mind Sculpt Games hosts almost 10 community gaming events a week in Great Bend, Kansas! Holy cow!
If you're missing out on theme nights at The Game Annex in Fort Wayne, Indiana, you're missing out on one of the best communities in gaming!
Active Players in Baton Rouge, LA - have you been to LIttle Wars?