Player Character - Kris Straub

Comment

Player Character - Kris Straub

"There are a lot of characters and a lot of ways to exist. I don’t feel like it is a necessary touchstone for every single character to have romance."

Meet Kris Straub - Cartoonist, Animator, and K'thriss Drow'b on Penny Arcade's Acquisitions Incorporated: The C Team.

Player Character Level 1, Episode 6.

Created by Anne Richmond and Active Player Network

Special Thanks:

  • Kris Straub

  • Penny Arcade

  • Elyssa Grant

  • @deggey

  • @brosephene_

  • @dragon_

  • @iscaneus

  • @kristielpond

  • @maxwellsdeamon

  • @tobyricher

  • @wondersanta

Comment

Unpacking the Pathfinder Playtest

Comment

Unpacking the Pathfinder Playtest

The Pathfinder Playtest ended November 18th and according to Paizo Inc., it was huge in terms of the number of players and incredibly useful to the designers!

Jason Bulmahn updated players on the findings from the Playtest and thanked them heartily for their participation in a video missive from the Paizo Studio.. He talked about data, surprises, and even gave a few spoilers as to what the final version of Pathfinder Second Edition will be like. 

The Paizo team was very clear that Pathfinder Second Edition will not be identical to the Playtest. The Playtest made bold choices to test various options and players will absolutely experience the game differently when the Second Edition is released in August.

While still being written, Pathfinder Second Edition will add storytelling flavor and polish, provide a better introduction for new players, include more useful GM tools, do away with magical Resonance, and refine the Proficiency system. All of this moves towards making a game that is easier to learn, faster to play at all levels, providing the depth of character customization that Paizo is lauded for, and giving GMs the tools to tell the stories they want to tell. Getting the rules just right allows players to focus more on the story at gaming table.

Even though the Playtest is at an end, the Pathfinder Playtest books still create a fascinating and challenging adventure - especially for any party who might want to gain an deeper understanding of game design, compare their experience with the final version coming this year, and of course explore the vast World of Golarian. The chapters of the Doomsday Dawn adventure take place in many of the same locations as Pathfinder’s previous Adventure Paths, giving a sampling to new players and a sentimental journey to veterans. Let’s be honest, it’s just plain fun. Reach out to your FLGS to see if they still have copies available!

Paizo has plans to make the buying experience special for customers who plan to buy Pathfinder Second Edition at their favorite local gaming store which they plan to announce in March.

Comment

Comment

Player Character Spotlight - The Teacher

I sat down with Ken Grazier at PAX Unplugged this year to learn a little more about him, his company Geek-Craft, and the work he is doing as an ambassador for hobby gaming with the general public.

In 2004/5, when Ken was attending Pennsylvania State University, he explored events offered by the Student Programming Association to enhance the co-curricular experience of students. One of the clubs that offered activities was called the Gaming Association of Penn State (GAPS).  

“When I showed up for the first time, they had four eight-foot tables covered with games that I had never seen before. I thought to myself – THIS is interesting. Three years later, I’m the president of the club, and we’re using many of my own games because it provides different options from what they traditionally offered.”

In addition to taking on a large role within GAPS, Ken also began offering his teaching skills to game publishers – starting with demoing for Steve Jackson Games. From that experience, a desire to work with more producers (and more importantly – more games) lead him to the creation of Geek-Craft in 2007.

“Since I wanted to work with more companies, Geek-Craft was born. With my wife’s help (she’s very crafty), we began celebrating the craft of being a geek.”

In addition to spreading knowledge about games themselves, Geek-Craft makes buttons, dice bags, and are commissioned for plenty of custom items as well.

“Whatever people need to make their game better, we enjoy doing. Whether it’s playtesting, editing, proofing, adding chrome to a game, helping publishers with merch for events…”

In addition to making physical items for gamers, Ken has also attended UnPub (the Unpublished Games Network) events for the last seven years, and loves playtesting and offering feedback to game designers to help massage their products to the next level.

“I like the idea of making my own game, but I think that everyone who plays board games at a higher level does. I work in QA for an insurance company by day; so, I guess I like breaking things. That’s why I partake in a lot of playtesting in the hobby.”

When we discussed how to tactfully offer advice about unfinished games to creators, whether though playtesting feedback or rulebook editing, Ken has a no-nonsense approach:

“I don’t tend to care about feelings. If it means that their game is going to be in front of more people, it’s worth it. If they’re hard-pressed to do things their own way, that’s fine with me. I’ll still offer feedback.”

Ken’s extensive work within the community means that he has gotten to know a lot of board game designers, publishers, and players. He writes reviews, volunteers to demo frequently for several publishers, and truly loves getting to know people and being able to see what’s coming next, and where the hobby is heading.

“In the next five years, co-ops and story-driven games are going to continue to shine. I think games that provide narrative and experiences in place of competition are going to grow in popularity.”

One of his favorite jobs when teaching at his FLGS, Critical Hit Games in Cleveland Heights, is helping new gamers find out what sort of products and experiences they enjoy.

“We’ll sit down with a curated selection of introductory games, and I’ll explain – you might not enjoy this game, and that’s FINE, but I want you to play it anyway so you can tell me what parts you did like, or things you hated, so that I can tailor my next round of recommendations. Anything that is easy to teach and learn means they can invest in playing the game and learning to understand whether it was for them or not.”

He suggests that gamers, new and old, that struggle with learning new games rely on help from outside sources without shame or apprehension.

“Find online videos. Find someone in a local group or store who enjoys teaching. If someone tells me that they want to learn something, I can sit down and teach it faster than they can teach themselves. They can then focus on the game and enjoy it, while I focus on the teaching. Finding ‘that person’ (while respecting them and their time) is wonderful. It’s helped grow a lot of connections and friendships.”

As part of his mission to bring new gamers into his community, Ken often references a practical example of gaming as a form of entertainment when speaking to customers. Instead of a family of four going out to the movies for, say, $80… they could purchase a $50 board game, order $30 worth of pizza, and have an interactive fun time with one another. The next time they want to play, all they’ll need to do is provide some food – they can reuse the game and play it again.

“We have so many options for entertainment as a culture at this point, that I think board games really need to become more of an option for the public. I want to foster that growth.”

To learn more about Ken or Geek-Craft, visit http://geek-craft.com/wordpress/.

Comment

Sneak Peek! Munchkin: Warhammer 40K

Comment

Sneak Peek! Munchkin: Warhammer 40K

Munchkin: Warhammer 40K is slowly making its way to us, fam! If you have been thirsting for it since it was announced at Gen Con last year, then you’ll be super jealous to know that our friends at Steve Jackson Games gave us a sneak peak at the cards in production.

Don’t stay mad at us though, because we are passing them along to you!

IMG_2791.JPG
IMG_2790.JPG

That being said… this did just arrive on my doorstep.

IMG_4507.jpg

So, the green-eyed monster may have returned - and frankly, I understand if it did. The art will delight and tantalize all Warhammer fans and Munchkin fans alike and there are 168 new cards to explore in the box. It comes with a game board as well as a custom six sided die and twelve standies with even more of that classic Munchkin art from John Kovalic.

Dare I open it on APN for all to see? Tell me in the comments if that’s something you’d like to see!

BUT! Don’t let me have all the fun! You should head to your FLGS and preorder because this game will be hitting shelves in March!

Comment

Player Character - Amy T. Falcone

Comment

Player Character - Amy T. Falcone

"It's me taking a really hard look at myself - having self compassion."

Meet Amy T. Falcone, creative streamer, illustrator and Walnut Dankgrass on Penny Arcade's Acquisitions Incorporated: The C Team.

Player Character Level 1, Episode 4.

Created by Anne Richmond and Active Player Network

Special Thanks:

  • Amy T. Falcone

  • Penny Arcade

  • Elyssa Grant

  • PAX Unplugged Enforcers

  • @nurse_normal

  • @iscaneous

  • @becdar

  • @robinachilds

  • @willthecoe

  • @mattwhodraws

  • @elithecartoon

  • @archimer

  • @parsonssi

  • @nanovarose

  • @thatscarletmoth

  • @lady_zel

Comment

Player Character - Mike Selinker

Comment

Player Character - Mike Selinker

"If I can get people into my games and just throw them into my world - I think that's the most fun I can have."

Meet legendary game designer and President of Lone Shark Games, Mike Selinker.

Player Character Level 1, Episode 3.

Created by Anne Richmond and Active Player Network

Comment

Comment

Player Character Spotlight - The Psychological Player

Amanda Lashua works in the Scientific Software industry in New Hampshire. While she has only been playing ‘heavy, euro-type games’ for a few years, she certainly isn’t new to gaming as a hobby in general.

“My parents separated when I was four, and I would go to visit my dad every other weekend, one of those deals. And we would always play Monopoly, and five-card stud. Some of the skills he taught me were important: like how to play against other players, and how to psychologically get them to do what I want.”

Those skills, coupled with sessions of penny-Poker during family gatherings, and her experiences playing D&D 3rd edition in middle school, ended up feeding a curiosity that eventually shaped a huge part of her grad school experience.

“I’ve taken a lot of the skills that my dad taught me and incorporated them into modern gaming. It wasn’t a big leap for me.”

At a ‘getting to know each other’ party at Syracuse University, she was introduced to Settlers of Catan, and liked it so much that she tracked down a friendly local game store that sold it. It turned out that the FLGS held regular Settlers and Munchkin Tournaments, so she and her friends signed up and started participating regularly (she even won a few times!).

“People see strategy games and think, oh, I’ve got to get points. I’ve got to build my engine. I’m not into sabotaging people, but I’m not above manipulating them to do the things I want them to do in order to help me. Sometimes if you stack hands the right way, you can force opponents to pick the card that you want them to pick – one that benefits you.”

In addition to her involvement with local tournaments throughout grad school, Amanda also took part in a two and a half year long Dungeons & Dragons campaign with her friends.

“We were really nerdy about it. It incorporated rotating DMs, and time travel. We went back in time and invested in a tavern. We even calculated the compound interest on our investment. When we got back to the future, we had so much gold that we could buy anything.”

After grad school, Amanda found herself surrounded by a new crowd of hobbyists, some who even design their own games. They mostly spend their time playing titles like Great Western Trail and Terraforming Mars.

“I prefer board games and RPGs over other games, really, because it forces people to be together and honor commitments. It’s a social obligation, and it’s been really good for maintaining our friendships. Even though we’ve all gone in our separate directions, it’s something that keeps us in contact and meeting every month.”

When we sat down at PAXU in December, Amanda was making the rounds and enjoying the growth that the convention had seen in the last year. She had a lot of positive things to say about attending conventions solo.

“Going to cons alone forces you to meet new people, make connections, and join games that you might not be able to if you have someone else with you. Breaking away and doing your own thing is a completely different experience.”

She mentioned that she sees people wandering around in groups and can’t help but wonder if they miss out on some of the experience by staying within their bubbles and comfort zones.

“I like playing games against people I don’t know because they usually underestimate me…. to their own peril.”

 

Comment

Comment

Player Character - Ryan Hartman

"Family board game night is a thing for a reason. I'm excited for this tradition to grow in our house."

Meet Ryan Hartman, the man who makes PAX and made his D&D debut with Penny Arcade as Donaar Blit'zen on Acquisitions Inc. The C Team.

Player Character Level 1, Episode 2.

Created by Anne Richmond and Active Player Network

Special Thanks:

  • Ryan Hartman

  • Elyssa Grant

  • Penny Arcade

  • @bernadettemeeke

  • @encifer

  • @mattwhodraws

  • @nurse_normal

  • @robinachilds

  • @doonami

  • @elithecartoon

  • @iscaneus

  • @kaldrenon

  • @knitpixy

  • @maxwellsdaemon

  • @shinybatgirl

Comment

2 Comments

Player Character Spotlight - The Ambassadors

TheLevins.jpg

Robin and Kristen Levins live in Austin, Texas with their seven year old daughter. I met them at BGG.Con in Dallas this year, where I found out that their attendance is an annual tradition 11 years running! They’ve got my humble four years doubled and then some!

Impressed with their streak, I asked a little about their gaming initiation, and their stories were in line with many modern initiation tales:

“I always played board games when I was younger – whatever we could find at a garage sales or at my grandmother’s house.” Robin explained.

He was first introduced to Settlers of Catan by a friend in college, and knew that tabletop was a hobby he wanted to become more involved in once they started building up a shared collection of games to play as a group.

Kristen, who is originally from Mississippi – played a lot of Mall Madness and Scategories growing up, like many of us.

“My Junior year of college, I walked in on a group of people playing a modified game of Risk (over two boards) and immediately felt like I had found my people.” She explains.

A web developer at a security company, Robin has successfully introduced elements of the hobby to his peers at work through social gaming, and fun activities like their fantasy movie league, in which players draft upcoming productions based on group viewing of the trailers, and eventually compete comparing box office success of their picks.  

Kristen, an Attorney, works to ensure that the low-income population of Texas have access to the court system.  Something that she is tremendously proud of is the creation of a modular, interactive 126-person poverty simulation that guides attorneys through several scenarios spanning a month in the shoes of a person with low-income. The simulation was created as a re-imagining of similar national-scale programs, but was designed specifically to reflect local laws and conditions, and to be used as a training and professional development tool at law schools and bar associations state-wide. It was developed in large part based on her knowledge and experiences with decision making in modern gaming.

“Imagine you have to go to work, but you have a court appearance at the same time. Or, you’re at work and your kid gets sick, but you don’t have a job with flexible hours. If you don’t stay at work, your paycheck will be cut… so there are a lot of real-world decisions to be made. It’s my favorite thing that I do at work.”

In addition to introducing gaming to their workplaces, the Levins host a weekly board game night for 12-14 people that is typically spread over three tables. Not everyone is a traditional gamer, but they do a fantastic job of providing a good experience for even casual players.

“Just about anybody who is half-way interested in games will play a Spiel des Jahres winner. It seems to me that this hobby is one that is kind of unique, in that it drives such an intense passion that people travel around the country to conventions, set up weekly meetups, and the like.” Robin explains.

“I am married to the person who is the most amazing game-master and rules explainer in the history of the world!” Kristen states emphatically.

It’s true that Robin usually describes rules to their friends and family, and has DM’d for the group’s Dungeons & Dragons campaigns in the past.  

“I like being able to get everything together and make things happen so others can enjoy games.” He says. “A good crowd with a bad game tends to be better than a bad crowd with a good game. Good friends having a great time around the table overcomes lesser titles more than the inverse.”

In addition to their play sessions at home, the family has started a new “summer kick-off” tradition that involves bringing their seven year old daughter and Kristen’s mother to BGG Spring once school ends.

“We’ve tried to be more intentional with gaming together.”

 

 

2 Comments

Comment

Player Character: Satine Phoenix

"I understand the power of connecting with people. [...] [D&D] has helped me with my PTSD and coping with a lot of things in life that are very intense."

Meet Satine Phoenix, legendary Dungeon Master, Community Manager, charity enthusiast, and so much more...

Player Character Level 1, Episode 1.

Created by Anne Richmond and Active Player Network

Special Thanks:

Comment