Friday the 13th: Freaky Favorites

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Friday the 13th: Freaky Favorites

It's Friday the 13th and the APN Staff has collected our spookiest games and geek gear to share with you. It's kind of like Halloween in July, which we're totally fine with. Click to scroll through our picks. 

Jayme C's Favorites

Tides of Madness – Portal Games

I love introducing new people to gaming and having a portable card game is a great thing to have on hand, especially when it has gorgeous artwork and a fun horror filled theme! This is a quick 2 player game that features set collection as well as card drafting, and the Old Ones of course! Players try to collect the most points before accumulating too many madness tokens to win the game. It’s playable in 15 – 20 minutes and depending on the card order, you will have different choices to make each game keeping things interesting.

Five Nights at Freddy’s – Collectibles Figures

For those who are unfamiliar with Five Nights at Freddy’s, it is a survival horror-themed video game series. You play as a security guard in a pizzeria, where the animatronics come alive at night and you have to survive. It will definitely get the adrenaline pumping! Fans of the series will be pleased to know you can add these lovely creepy characters to your own collection at home, but you might want to keep an eye on them at night! They might get restless and start moving around.

Ryan's Favorites

Flick ‘em Up! Dead of Winter

A perfect compliment to a Friday the 13th game night / party, particularly once choice beverages have been imbibed and folks need something on the lighter side. 😊 One of few dexterity games I have on my shelf, Flick ‘em Up is quick to teach, highly replayable and customizable, and the partnership with the Dead of Winter brand, turning it from western shootout to post-apocalyptic zombie survival, works incredibly well!

Jayme B's Favorites

Fear – Stronghold Games

You know what I love? NOT HAVING TO READ A RULEBOOK. Fear is the spookiest game in the Fast Forward series by Friedmann Friese, and is played by discovering the rules as you go… no prep required! This fast-paced card game uses the Fable Game system that was introduced in Fabled Fruit, and is totally re-playable with new groups of people. 

Mountains of Madness – Iello Games

While Lovecraftian horror isn’t necessarily what I would consider “my thing” – I DO love co-ops, and party games. What better theme to inject hilarity into a party game experience than losing your grip on reality?!  

In Mountains of Madness, players work together to communicate quickly and clearly in order to survive in a mysterious mountain environment, all while facing a series of prohibitive rules that simulate madness and ultimately work against your end goal. (Examples include: limiting the type of words you can use in speaking to your teammates, forcing you to take strange or humorous actions while playing, or holding your cards a certain way.) These challenges are guaranteed to not only confuse your teammates, but also to run out the clock on your turns!

Justin's Favorites

InBetween - Board & Dice

InBetween by Board and Dice has been on my want list since I heard about it. Its Stranger Things vibe is what initially drew me to it, but favorable impressions from Man vs Meeple and Same Healey at Dice Tower made it a must-have. Most importantly, the theme will be an easy sell for my family and it’s available now!

Jason Voorhees - Mezco Toyz

I’m a huge Friday the 13th movie fan, having watched all the movies too many times to count So, I can’t wait to get my hands on Mezco Toyz’ Deluxe Stylized version of Jason Voorhees. He’ll stand 6” tall (perfect for my desk or bookshelf), has 10 points of articulation for posing, can be fitted with a machete or axe, AND his mask comes off to show his nasty face. Fall can’t come fast enough!

Anne's Favorites

Wyrd: Hide and Seek - The Dreamer Crew - Wayland Games

I’m a huge miniature painting freak and while that obsession started with epic Dungeons and Dragons player characters, I’ve found that painting horrific visages can be truly fun! Malifaux is a Lovecraftian war-game where the miniatures are delightfully ghastly. One of my favorite sets is Hide and Seek because it includes creatures both large and small with lots of variety in one pack. 

Betrayal: Legacy - Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast

My love of the Betrayal series has been noted in the past, but I am super looking forward to Betrayal Legacy which is coming out this fall! I love a good campaign game and this new take on Betrayal includes a 13 chapter prologue campaign that explores the House on the Hill from the original title over the course of decades and players take on the roles of various families in their relationship to the manor. As you work through the campaign, your actions will have permanent effects on the final form of your Betrayal game, attaching certain objects and events to your lineage. I lay in wait for the crisp autumn air and the arrival of this game in my very grabby hands!

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D&D Recipes: Scanlan's "Bigby's Hand" Shorties

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D&D Recipes: Scanlan's "Bigby's Hand" Shorties

After two week of waiting for the triumphant return of The Might Nein, it's finally THURSDAY and tonight we'll get our next installment of Critical Role!

Critical Role is a weekly live-streamed show where a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors sit down and play Dungeons and Dragons. Their fan base of Critters is incredibly creative and talented and one such fan, Monica Haworth, has taken her love of the show and the game straight to the kitchen! Each Thursday, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you from her collection, "The Slayer's Cake Recipe Book" with illustrations by fellow Critter, Taylor Willemot. 

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Confer Inspiration on your adventuring party with these incredible Bigby's Hand shortbread cookies courtesy of "The Meatman" himself, Scanlan Shorthalt.

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Which member of Vox Machina should we honor in icing next week? Leave your requests in the comments!

See also: Vax'ildan's Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate and Percy's Profiterolos

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Betrayal at Baldur's Gate

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Betrayal at Baldur's Gate

Betrayal at House on the Hill was one of those games that changed the way I thought about board games in general. Despite horror not being my personal aesthetic, I was enchanted by individual characters and their unique skill sets, the way players built out the manor in new ways every play-through, and the randomized plot twists during the Haunt phase of the game. From the go, it seemed like one of those games that would confer infinite replayability and fun at my table. 

A few weeks ago, my weekly D&D group had to cancel a session and we were totally bummed! We've met nearly weekly for almost a year at this point and even if we weren't going to continue galavanting through Storm King's Thunder with our full party, the rest of us wanted to play some board games. When our DM set this enticing loot on the table, I could not have been more excited.

Betrayal at Baldur's Gate. Two of my greatest gaming loves had spawned the "game to rule them all." This title came out last year and despite being aware of it, I hadn't sat down and to play yet. 

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For anyone who hasn't played a Betrayal game, what happens is that each player selects a character. They all start with certain skill levels and attributes. In this iteration, the ranger is going to have a high speed while the fighter has more might and the wizard has a higher knowledge etc. Each character features a classic D&D class and unique special ability such as Inspiration or Wild Shape. Each player takes turns randomly selecting tiles to build out the city of Baldur's gate. Each time you step into a new tile there might be an event/combat encounter to be resolved by some simple dice roles determined by your character's attributes. Winning an event may award you bonuses to these attributes or even special magical items, while failure is likely to negatively impact your attributes. However, every time you draw an Omen card, you must make a dice role equal to the amount of Omens that have appeared so far - this is called a "Haunt" roll. If the result is 6 or higher, the Haunt phase of the game begins and a player at the table becomes the traitor. The tile the player was on and the Omen card that started the Haunt determine which of the 50 possible Haunts will commence. You consult the manual to reveal who has become the traitor and to learn the new rules and win conditions for party during that particular haunt. 

The amazing thing for D&D enthusiasts is that these Haunts are love letters to many beloved villains and monsters from the cannon. You could face mindflayers, minotaurs, or even a Sphere of Annihilation! In our game, we faced doppelgangers, one of my favorite monsters from the Monster Manual. I won't reveal too much, but the new rules incited paranoia that anyone at the table could become a doppelganger and continue to turn the tide of battle in favor of the traitor. Our group is full of "yes-and" improvisors, so while there's not really roleplaying in this game, we played up the suspense and tension by doing specific dice rolls in a separate room so the rest of the group would be left guessing.

Certain party members are going to have advantages in each Haunt based on the items they cary, their location, and their attributes. As your party acquires items and advantages, everyone watches their backs because another player's boon could become your bane if they are revealed as the traitor during the Haunt.

This game really felt like an amazing way to scratch the D&D itch without the set up, planning, materials, and weighty roleplaying. It's a great game to introduce new players to the hobby because the first phase is co-operative across the board, making it easy to help each other get a handle on the basic rules of the game before all hell breaks loose - sometimes literally!

If you're interested in learning more, Wizards of the Coast released a video at the Stream of Annihilation last year to announce that game that will give you a real feeling for the flavor. Hit your FLGS so you can start your next adventure in Betrayal at Baldur's Gate, but don't forget to watch your back!

Have you had a chance to play Betrayal at Baldur's Gate? What are some of your favorite haunts?

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It's Just a Game: Bring Your Best You to the Table

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It's Just a Game: Bring Your Best You to the Table

Last December, I read an article published by NBC titled "Why Board Games Bring Out the Worst in Us." Frankly, the title disturbed me, and being a sucker for clickbait, I pressed on and gave it a read.

The author, Nicole Spector, spoke to post-doctoral scholars at UCLA, psychological performance coaches at The Aligned Performance Insititute, and clinical psychologists who all provided research analysis that pointed to the reasons that players can become aggressively competitive when playing board games. Ms. Spector herself identifies as a particularly competitive gamer and wanted to know why that might be.

As I read through the article, I discovered that this enterprise was a self diagnosis dressed as public advice and I balked at several of the findings - not because the scientists and behavioral psychologists were wrong (I don't pretend to know better than they do with their years of study), but because a diagnosis is not an excuse for bad behavior, it's an opportunity to look for ways to improve it. 

In her exploration, Ms. Spector addressed the inability of the human brain to separate simulated experiences from real experiences. 

The human brain never evolved a mechanism to separate a game from reality,” says Don Vaughn, a postdoctoral scholar at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. “If a lion was chasing one of our ancestors on the savanna, it was real, every time. There were no movies, plays or simulations. Modern neuroscience has revealed that just thinking about imagined situations activates the same brain regions as the actual experience.
— - Don Vaughn, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA

Many actors spend their lives struggling to tap into that feeling - to create a substantial emotional simulation so that they can perform an authentic response to a situation. Some people actually want to experience that type of thing at the game table through an RPG or even chase it by spending entire weekends at a LARP event. In these situations, it's not uncommon to cry over the loss of your favorite NPC or to face down a prince in a heated political argument with raised voices on both sides of the table. The key to healthy play is that everyone is consenting to the experience and is supporting each other's comfort with emotional vulnerability.

 A friendly game of  Dungeons & Dragons  by Wizards of the Coast.

A friendly game of Dungeons & Dragons by Wizards of the Coast.

Board games tend to be a different side to that coin. They provide a context and a confined set of rules and behaviors to operate within. Personally, if I'm seeing someone cry, scream, or become withdrawn at a roleplaying table, I'll always check in with the player afterwards to make sure everything is ok, but I'm not surprised by it. This is consensual adult make believe. I've seen best friends fight like bloodthirsty barbarians in character and grab a beer at the pub afterwards.

If I see that elevated behavior at a board game event, I assume that something completely inappropriate has happened at that table. These are not emotional exercises or simulations. These games are built on strategy, turns, and operations. Some, like the soon to be released Thornwatch by Loneshark Games stride that evasive line with light roleplay. Overall, if I'm loosing at a game like Odin's Ravens or Sheriff of Nottingham, I might go as far as an internal Oh well... How disappointing! - I'm not going to a flip a table.

Folks, we're supposed to be laughing at our misfortune, not actually cursing the Old Gods. Disclaimer: I don't want to tell someone how to play or experience a game the right way, but in this case I don't want to normalize the suppression of emotions outside of the table being an excuse to exorcise them at the table. Finding balance is incredibly important and our friends at Greatway Games had a fantastic discussion about that.  

Another assumption in the article is that all board games are, by nature competitive.

By their nature, board games bring out our competitive spirit because they divide us. Whether it’s a family, couples hanging out on a Saturday night or just kids having fun, board games usually are an ‘every man for himself’ scenario, or separate us into teams.
— Dr. Alok Trivedi, psychological performance coach and founder of The Aligned Performance Institute.
  Betrayal at Baldur's Gate  by Avalon Hill Games and Wizards of the Coast

Betrayal at Baldur's Gate by Avalon Hill Games and Wizards of the Coast

Yes, there are several competitive games on the market, but there are also co-operative games - even games that feature both styles of play within the same session. However, there's also the experience of introducing a game to players step by step which exercises the use of friendly communication skills and sportsmanly competition. Though you're competitors, you might help the other player through their first few turns and explain strategies to them until they're comfortable to make their own unaided decisions.

There is such a rainbow of experiences in board games and there's something for everyone, but being a sore loser does not make you the victim of some cursed psychological plot! In those cases, I really think players need to look within themselves and figure out how to participate in a healthy way. If you can't, that's your responsibility to address it. Please do it not make it the table's problem.

 Playing  Thornwatch  by Loneshark Games with my friends.

Playing Thornwatch by Loneshark Games with my friends.

Lastly, Ms. Spector addresses the competitive drive that kicks into high gear when board games spawn archetypal role reversal. 

One of the more fascinating social qualities of board games is their ability to shift family dynamics. If your big brother is always getting his way, it may be extra satisfying to dominate in a board game, just as it may be particularly humiliating for said big brother to lose to you.
— Nicole Spector, NBC News

Board games have the ability to transport us and transform us, whether that's to the fantasy Candy Land or to the Spice Islands of Century: Eastern Wonders. From Ms. Spector's point of view, the dark equalizing transportation circle of a board game provides a chance to smash down those who deserve it away from the table now that the playing field is equal. This is what I call, non-consensual table therapy.

When you look for these opportunities to address old grudges for yourself at a board game event, you are creating an experience internally that has nothing to do with the awareness or consent of the other players and it's completely inappropriate. For my part, this equalizing transformation is one of the things I look forward to most of all - not because I want to smash the patriarchy, but because I want to bring people together for a shared experience. Board games provide a socially acceptable opportunity for us to step away from politics, prejudice, age, and every other factor that has been weaponized to separate people. Gaming is an opportunity to communicate with your friends. Don't be afraid to stop the game for a minute and deal with a problem. Take a deep breath. If someone is getting aggressive stop and talk about it. The more you avoid it, the worse it gets. If you can't communicate with your fellow players in a healthy way, odds are you probably shouldn't be playing with them. There are deeper issues at work that need to be addressed. 

Nicole Spector ends her article by recommending several balms for competitive board game spirit including:

  • Playing games with less strategy so as not to have to tax "brain power."
  • Drink Responsibly
  • Resolve not to react to others' aggression. 

NBC News BETTER touts that their articles are "obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live." While Nicole Spector ended her article with these "tips," I would say that there's one glaring health-mindful omission here. Avoiding complicated/strategic competitive games is not the problem. The problem is inside you! It's just a game, but your internal life lives beyond the table and you need to give it attention and care.

If you find yourself exorcizing your personal demons during board games, seek help. I don't mean that in a dismissive way. I mean it with all the love and support in the world. Table therapy is unacceptable and it ruins the game for everyone else.

This, above all, is a social event. When your own internal emotional life regularly causes disruption at social functions, honor that and seek the appropriate means to address it. There is a stigma around mental health and therapy is such a powerful tool if you're brave enough to embrace it. It's your responsibility to your fellow players to play safely and be a good sport. Depression, anxiety, and personal hangups can absolutely make that more challenging. The big rule of thumb is, if you're not in a healthy place to play, then don't subject the table to your issues. Be kind to yourself and to your fellow players and you'll find that this hobby has so much more to offer than the thrill of victory.

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Coming Soon! Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra

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Coming Soon! Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra

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Every once in a while, in a seemingly endless buffet line of delectable new board game offerings, a title goes above and beyond and manages to truly take the tabletop hobby by storm. The cause for wide-sweeping, even viral success varies from title to title; sometimes predicated upon spectacular graphics, or innovative gameplay mechanics, and occasionally even by sheer scale or volume. In rare but particularly satisfying instances, a carefully balanced trifecta of artistry, production, and cultural circumstance blend into a perfect spackle, artfully repairing the EXACT dents worn into the hearts or minds of those turning to gaming as an escape from the pressures of the outside world.

One recent example of hotness is the eye-catching abstract strategy game Azul, designed by Michael Kiesling, and featuring art from the talented Chris Quilliams. Boasting an impressive 320,000+ copies sold in less than nine months since its release, Azul has been translated into 25 languages and is available for sale in dozens of countries across the globe. Thanks to a repertoire of over a dozen award recommendations and prizes (including notable Spiel des Jahres and Dice Tower Award nominations, and 2018 As d’Or Game of the Year and Mensa Select awards), Azul is, even to a casual observer - a considerable grand-slam for gamers and creators alike.

My own personal obsession with Azul stems from not only from the re-playability and diversity of game modes contained within the box, but also the accessibility of the game experience itself. As a person whose social circle is comprised mostly of non-gamers (gamers-in-training, if I have my way), finding a game that checks so many boxes for SO MANY different types of player is like hitting my own private jackpot. Baring my adoration for the game in mind, you can only imagine my enthusiasm when I was offered the chance to play a forthcoming release in the Next Move Games catalog: Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra!

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Set within the world of glass artisans of the Portugese Riveria, Stained Glass of Sintra features fabulous components that, at a glance, resonate a comforting familiarity to any who have seen or played the original Azul. A handful of circular Factory displays form a ring in the center of the table, topped with an elegant assortment of five color variations of square window pieces that are not only cleverly designed, but thoughtful in their production. Within each translucent piece lies an engraved symbol, unique to their color, considerately designed to lend aid to players who face difficulty distinguishing colors from one another. Nearby, a fabric bag boasts a belly full of extra panes, all waiting to be installed in the windows of the nearby palace.

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Familiar iconography spanning the game board and rulebook are the last of the visual similarities between the two games, as the rest of Stained Glass of Sintra looks quite different from Azul proper. Eight double-sided windows, each comprised of unique pattern strips, are randomly configured adjacent to each player’s palace board in order to set goals for their window commission. It is the task of each artisan to strategically draft colored sets of tiles from the Factory displays in the center of the table to complete the plans for each window – all while managing the placement of their personal glazier to optimize workflow, and strategically triggering bonuses both randomly established at the beginning of the game and/or specified across the bottom of their palace boards (combos are EVERYTHING).

Negative-point penalties are enforced on players who assume first turn in subsequent rounds – a cost some players may deem a fair price for temporary drafting advantage. Any who draw more window panes than a pattern strip can accommodate will soon find themselves in possession of ‘broken pieces’, which also cause the loss of points. This is important to remember if you, like myself, enjoy a more competitive play experience. It is almost too fun forcing your opponent to over-draft towards the end of a round, oftentimes resulting in game-altering consequences. All broken pieces, along with any cleared from player boards as patterns are completed, are now kept in a beautiful and cleverly constructed “glass” tower… meaning no more random collection of tiles waiting to be re-bagged in the middle of the table!

End-game scoring is tremendously impactful – often skyrocketing a player from behind to score an upset victory over their opponents. The masterful duality of familiarity and innovation are likely to position Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra as an automatic collection piece for fans of the original game. As with Azul, the re-playability of Sintra is high, built in through randomized pattern configuration and variable scoring boards, and yet the gameplay itself is different enough from the original to allow each game to shine of their own merit.

Releasing at Essen Spiele in October 2018, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is a worthy successor to the smash hit that preceded it. I am truly looking forward to getting it back to the table, so I can finally implement some of the strategies that have been flying through my brain since my first play.

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Magic Core Set 2019 Draft Weekend: July 14th-15th 2018

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Magic Core Set 2019 Draft Weekend: July 14th-15th 2018

Magic: The Gathering from Wizards of the Coast constructed play starts this Friday July 13th for Core Set 2019! We'll start seeing all sorts of new decks being played after that point featuring the cards for the season. Constructed decks take a lot of thought and typically require a larger monetary investment, so it can be an intimidating place to start for new players. Don't worry. We've got you covered with an event that's perfect to help you get started!

We are chomping at the bit for Draft Weekend which runs July 14th and 15th! One of the great things about a Draft is that everyone is on equal footing. You don't need to spend $1000 to build the perfect competition deck to enjoy the game at a draft. All you need to do is head to your local shop, pay a nominal fee for your draft entry (usually the cost of ~3 booster packs), and build decks from the ground up with other people at the table. Tables at a draft are typically made up of 8 players. You can see what they're building as they go and stick to a few colors yourself so you can fuel your spells with mana and counter the decks that others have built during the draft. 

You can expect your FLGS to be full to bursting with Magic players  this weekend so this should be a great event to jump into whether you're new to the game or a seasoned player who's chomping at the bit to get the new cards in hand. To find an FLGS near you that's running a Draft Weekend event, click here

If you've never been to a Draft Weekend and want to know what to expect, Wizards of the Coast released a great video that should get you up to speed.

Are you going to Draft Weekend? Have any advice for new players who might want to try Magic starting with Core Set 2019? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments!

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Legion of Everblight - Proteus

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Legion of Everblight - Proteus

I've done it again. I've got my eyes on another expensive, time intensive hobby and I don't care who knows it! What's next, you may ask? Warmachine: Hordes by Privateer Press! I have a friend who has been wanting to play for a while and as I get more interested in miniature painting, the challenge of building and customizing an army tantalizes and delights me.

Privateer Press does make it easy to start your Hordes journey with a Starter Box for each army. My friends have already selected the Trollbloods and Circle Orboros Battlegroups. At first I was kind of sad because "Druid" is my aesthetic and the Circle seemed like the best way to live that dream. However, "Winter Elf Witch" is a close second, so as soon as I saw the edritch-infused-drow-esque-matriarchal-horror of the Legion of Everblight, I was ALL IN.

The Starter Box is on its way, but I'm incapable of doing things by halves, so of course, now I'm building plans for whole potential army. That's when I found my new best boi: Proteus. Look at this horned squid face!

 Proteus, Legion of Everblight, Warbeast

Proteus, Legion of Everblight, Warbeast

Let's get to know him shall we?

The dragonspawn Proteus is Absylonia’s greatest creation. With a mass of thrashing tentacles projecting from its horrible visage, Proteus is the dragon’s hunger given obscene form. This unnatural abomination drags its victims inexorably into the grasp of its waiting claws. Those ensnared die horribly as Proteus strips flesh from bone, filling the air with a bloody mist.

The Battle College Wiki has a log of great Warmachine info and you can read more about Proteus' abilities and features here. This is just one of those minis I loved so much that I had to figure out a way to field him even if it meant building an army for two separate warlocks in the same faction. 

As a total noob to this hobby, one thing I'm learning is that your Warlock (which is like your controlling general) sometimes gives bonuses or boosts to certain creature types or abilities, so if I wanted to build out more warbeasts like Proteus, I may want to build my army around Absylonia as my Warlock because she gives them extra abilities. Lore-wise, it seems like her experimentations have caused her to start to transform into a sort of demonic/beast like entity herself.

  Absylonia, Daughter of Everblight

Absylonia, Daughter of Everblight

Conversely, Kryssa, who comes in the starter box I've ordered is a great entry point Warlock for the game because her spells are simple but effective and it seems, from what I've read, that she is very mobile and has powers that focus on speed and mobility for her army. Absylonia on the other hand has a huge focus on Warbeasts like Proteus in both of her two forms which each have slightly different bonuses and abilities. You can buy and use either one for your army.

I'm not sure which I will go with, but over all it looks like I'll be building an army I can adjust for Nyssa or Absylonia depending on my opponent. Plus, let's face it - I just want to paint all the things!

Are you a Warmachine: Hordes Addict? We're looking for your best advice for newbies! Let us know your tips in the comments. 

 

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Lords of Hellas - How to Play from Board Game Replay

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Lords of Hellas - How to Play from Board Game Replay

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Have you heard the good word about Lords of Hellas yet?

I have been chomping at the bit to get my hands on this treasure by Awaken Realms. My body is so ready for science fiction imbued Greek mythology. Between painting up all of the miniature elements and having the option to play in single player, campaign, and multiplayer modes, there are so many ways to enjoy this game that it's almost overwhelming.

There's nothing more nerve wracking to me than the pressure filled moments when I open a new game to set it up for my friends and have to explain the rules before we can get started. If you're like me, the anxiety comes from the fact that I want people to be excited about the gameplay and the art on the table rather than worrying about whether they're "doing it right" or having to halt gameplay constantly for rulings. Between shuffling decks and thumbing through instruction manuals, it's nice to have a chance to learn about the gameplay and victory conditions before I hit the table so that I provide my friends with best - and most fun - experience possible. If I have a working knowledge of how things should function, I can usually present the game in layers, providing rules or demo turns as needed to get everyone up to speed as we go, rather than needing to give an overwrought, yawn-inducing rules lecture at the start.

For Lords of HellasBoard Game Replay had me covered with this great "How to Play" video that walks through how to set up the game, hunt monsters, complete hero quests, build monuments, and battle enemies for region control. With all the rules laid out for me for the multiplayer game, I can shrug off that pressure and get to the fun stuff faster.

How do you prep to introduce a new game to your friends? Leave your advice in the comments!

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D&D Recipes: Percy's Profiterolos

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D&D Recipes: Percy's Profiterolos

Critical Role is a weekly live-streamed show where a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors sit down and play Dungeons and Dragons. Their fan base of Critters is incredibly creative and talented and one such fan, Monica Haworth, has taken her love of the show and the game straight to the kitchen! Each Thursday, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you from her collection, "The Slayer's Cake Recipe Book" with illustrations by fellow Critter, Taylor Willemot. 

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This week, we are in Whitestone to celebrate everyone's favorite gunslinger, Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III with Monica's aptly named "Profiterolos."

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 Life needs things to live, but these pepperbox details are giving me life!

Life needs things to live, but these pepperbox details are giving me life!

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Greatway Games Takes On the Balancing Act of Gaming

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Greatway Games Takes On the Balancing Act of Gaming

It’s totally different if there’s something going on at the table that’s making you really uncomfortable, but if it’s the game itself that you’re having trouble with then that’s something you need to think about. If you’re having a hard time when you lose or when you win - or any part of it - that’s something that you need to look at.
— Greatway Games: Balancing Act

Gaming has a million benefits from teaching strategic thinking, to improving brain health, to stress relieve, to encouraging positive social interaction. Often times these positives are balanced by negatives - difficult time management, addiction, competitive rush, cost - it really depends on every player's relationship to the hobby and the individual games they play.  

This episode of the Greatway Games Podcast takes on both achieving balance in life through gaming as an escape, but also how to balance your emotions at the table and how to read your gaming group to make sure that you are making appropriate choices when selecting the game and playing it with the particular players involved.

Check out Greatway Games and show them some love if you enjoyed this discussion. What do you think? Do you take extra precautions to create a healthy table? Are there any measures you pursue to keep you gaming life balanced? Let us know in the comments!

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DragonBall Super Card Game - Colossal Warfare!

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DragonBall Super Card Game - Colossal Warfare!

DragonBall Super Card Game: Colossal Warfare launches on July 13th and I, for one, am super hype about anything that tugs at my nostalgia for Toonami binges of old. One of the great things about DBSCG is that it brings together elements from classic DBZ lore with characters from the Xenoverse video games.

In Colossal Warfare, we see the exciting addition of Demigra! If you are unfamiliar he is the big bad bent on shattering historic events across all of DragonBall, you team up with Trunks and the Time Patrol to put a stop to his machinations. It's exciting to see Xenoverse characters get included in the TCG because this is a chance to invite new players who loved the video games to the hobby to do battle together.

In this expansion, you can assist Demigra or fall in with the ranks of Goku's Lineage. Are you planning to side with Ultra Instinct or serve the God of Time? Let us know what you think of the factions in the comments!

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Spell Effects from WizKids!

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Spell Effects from WizKids!

As the APN team prepares to tackle our first Dungeons & Dragons adventure, Rage of Demons: Out of the Abyss, I am faced with the trials and tribulations of the Dungeon Master. I have to weave backstories into the module, prepare stat blocks, and make sure I have the physical tools I need to represent our game in physical space. 

As someone who spends a lot of time playing Tabletop RPG's on both sides of the DM screen, I've become keenly aware of my strengths and weaknesses. While I'm totally comfortable performing an eternally evolving spectrum of personalities, a lot of the tools I've amassed over the years are to triage my struggle to run smooth combat encounters. I'm pretty sure that this means that I'm "exemplary" at Dragons, while the Dungeons could be described as "needs improvement."

It's hugely important to create a well appointed battle board once initiative has been determined. Whether you're playing on wet erase grid or a full Dwarven Forge set up, understanding the space that comprises the potential battlefield and all of its elements - whether originating from myself or the players - makes all the difference when it comes to strategy.  Without these aides, the whole thing levels up into a gigantic arcane headache as the players and their foes become more powerful,

This is why I tend to collect tools that help me physicalize everyone's choices. The most commonly used items are character minis and foe tokens. The rest depends entirely on the party. For this adventure, we have 7 players, including a Paladin and Cleric, which means that I'll need to create minion heavy fights or combat puzzles/traps to lock down the healers and create a challenge for the group so they don't steamroll every encounter. I'll also need to consult the Out of the Abyss book for any major villains I think they might fight so that I can be on the look out for good miniatures.

Beyond the characters and NPC's, I'll also need representations for everything from spell effects to spiritual weapons to flight pedestals. This keeps the whole table honest and aware of the tools at their disposal in a particular space and makes us aware of the cost/benefit of choices we might make. Of course, how you play is totally up to you, but I know  with APN's 6 arcane enthusiasts, we are going to have a metamagic soup of chaos. 

It's with this in mind that I wanted to feature some tools from WizKids that can be super helpful! I love painting miniatures when I'm playing a character. For my druid, I've been collecting and painting all sorts of beasts so that I have options for her favorite forms, but as a GM, I can't spend the time to do this for everyone at the table. These products offer a quick solution that provides Spell Effect miniatures that will bring your magic to life in moments with little effort.

 WizKids Dungeons & Dragons - Spell Effects - Wall of Ice

WizKids Dungeons & Dragons - Spell Effects - Wall of Ice

One of the best things about these items is that they are pre-made to fit the correct size of the spell effect so its easy to let players place them strategically, but it also means that once they're on the table, everyone is forced to view them as proper obstacles as well. 

 WizKids Dungeons & Dragons - Spell Effects - Wall of Fire

WizKids Dungeons & Dragons - Spell Effects - Wall of Fire

This next set is great because it provides proper representation for commonly used Divine and Arcane spells that take up physical space on the board, whether that's a Bigby's Hand ready to scoop up an important item from a dragon's hoard during combat or a set of Dancing Lights that allows you to properly measure the visible area in a dark cavern. 

 WizKids Dungeons & Dragons - Spell Effects - Arcane Fury & Divine Might

WizKids Dungeons & Dragons - Spell Effects - Arcane Fury & Divine Might

What tools do you stock for your table? Give us your suggestions in the comments!

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Family Friday: Imhotep

 

Whether you’re looking for a starting point to host game night with your family or you’ve been hosting them for years, we’ve got you covered with great suggestions. 2016 Spiel des Jahres e.V. nominee Imhotep from Thames & Kosmos is a GREAT game for the family with very simple rules, but lots of strategy and interactivity between the players. There’s no better time to explore the game with a new expansion is on the horizon: in A New Dynasty you’ll will receive a variety of new places, cards, and mechanisms to take the base game’s strategies to a new level. Pick up Imhotep at your FLGS today and watch for A New Dynasty to arrive in August! Until then, tell us: what’s your favorite game for family game night?

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D&D Recipes: Vax'ildan's Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

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D&D Recipes: Vax'ildan's Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

While there are a ton of amazing people making D&D streaming content and podcasts on the internet, it's Thursday and that means many of us are excited for another adventure with Critical Role and The Mighty Nein! 

Critical Role is a weekly live-streamed show where a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors sit down and play Dungeons and Dragons. Their fan base of Critters is incredibly creative and talented and one such fan, Monica Haworth, has taken her love of the show and the game straight to the kitchen! Each Thursday, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you from her collection, "The Slayer's Cake Recipe Book" with illustrations by fellow Critter, Taylor Willemot. 

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Today we will tantalize you with a roguish chocolate mousse delight fit for a Champion of the Raven Queen!

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Tell us which Vox Machina inspired delicacy you'd like us to share next week in the comments! 

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FAMILY GAME NIGHT - EXIT: THE GAME

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FAMILY GAME NIGHT - EXIT: THE GAME

If you haven’t had a chance to play, Don’t Panic! There are NO SPOILERS in this article.

  Exit: The Game -  "The Pharaoh's Tomb"

Exit: The Game - "The Pharaoh's Tomb"

Escape Rooms have got to be one of my favorite activities of all time. The pressure to solve a bunch of interconnected puzzles in a set time limit with friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers is money well spent in my book. That’s why I was so excited to bring the EXIT: THE GAME series to my family game nights!

If you aren’t familiar with the series, the games have a common (probably obvious) theme: you and up to three other people are trapped somewhere and need to escape. To do that, you’ll need to use a notebook, cards representing riddles and the answer cards to go along with them, a decoder disk for solving puzzles, and strange items that vary depending on the game you choose. Also, if you ever get stuck, there are hint cards you can use for each puzzle. Be careful though as every hint card you use will reduce your final score at the end!

The first time I played it was just me and my wife while our 10-week-old son hung out in his little swing. We chose “The Pharaoh’s Tomb” because we really loved the Egyptian theme and didn’t think it would entice other members of our family as much as “The Secret Lab” or “The Abandoned Cabin“. Set up was a breeze. There’s no board, so we just pulled out the book and decoder disk and set all the cards into their respective piles, leaving the strange items in the box until later told to grab them. We only needed to grab a couple pencils, some scrap paper, and a pair of scissors and we were off.

The whole experience was so much fun. We poured over the booklet, alternating between “Eureka!” and “I’m stuck!” moments. The nice thing about it just being the two of us was one could watch the baby while the other puzzled things out, then we could switch duties without skipping a beat. I’m not afraid to admit that we were stumped by one puzzle in particular and had to use up all the clue cards to solve it. Normally this would have been frustrating, but that revelation made us both go “Wow! Awesome!” That one puzzle gave us such an appreciation for the EXIT series that if you only ever play one of these, I highly recommend it. In the end, we passed the 2hr time limit and took hints so we ended with 4/10 stars. Honestly, not as bad as I thought it would be for a first time while watching a newborn!

 "The Pharaoh's Tomb" components

"The Pharaoh's Tomb" components

We went on to play “The Secret Lab” with family shortly after and had just as good of a time as the first go around. Everyone had a blast and adding two more people didn’t adversely affect the game. If anything, we did way better because of the extra sets of eyes, coming in under 1 hr and only needing to take two hints. It had just as many cool puzzles and seeing everyone’s interactions and different interpretations to riddles was amazing. During that game was when I fully appreciated why the EXIT: THE GAME series won the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2017.

I highly recommend everyone check these games out! They are fun, they are engaging and are an affordable way to experience an escape room from the comfort of home. More are constantly coming out so be on the look out at your local game store!

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Winter is coming... this June!

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Winter is coming... this June!

by Bobby Stickel

Maybe you've been living deep in a mine and you haven't heard about Smiths of Winterforge. Actually, that's not fair-- there are SO MANY games coming out, it's impossible to keep up with them, let alone know which are good. We get it, and we're here to sift through the grit to show you the diamond that really is Smiths of Winterforge. 

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From Rule & Make:
The forges of the Dwarven city of Winterforge have fired up once more. The royal centenary contract is up for renewal and only one of the legendary guilds can win the favour of the royal family and claim the contract as their own.

In Smiths of Winterforge players take control of a guild that has to earn money and reputation to ensure they are chosen for the royal centenary contract. You earn money by:

  • Taking contracts from the guild precinct
  • Buying components from the market place
  • Using components to craft your contract in the forge and earning money

Don’t have enough money to buy the components you need? Get a loan from the bank. Just make sure you pay it back before the end of the game.

Need a hand finishing your contract? Head to the Tavern and grab some crew to join your guild.

There are many paths to riches and reputation, are you going to take the right one?


Ok, you now have a basic understanding of the flavor of the game. BUT HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: There is a 'Special Edition,' and it's very limited. Here are the details on it:

  • $59.99 MSRP
  • Includes 6th player expansion
  • Includes solo variant rules and cards
  • 4 modular 'alleyway' expansions
  • Again, just to compare, the regular version plays 2-5, the SPECIAL EDITION plays 1-6

Once this print run is sold out, these items won’t be available again in the base game or separately.

This is going to be one of the most talked-about games of 2018, and we want to review this checklist:

  • I understand that there is a 'base game' version, AND a Special Edition available
  • I understand that the Special Edition is limited, and when it's gone, it's gone
  • I also understand that the only way to play solo, or to add a 6th player, are in the Special Edition

We good? Ok, so if the Special Edition is for you, please ask your FLGS to order you a copy. That's the only way you'll get it. 

Until next time,

-b

 Unreleased, alternate cover. Don't get this version, get the Special Edition!

Unreleased, alternate cover. Don't get this version, get the Special Edition!

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The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31

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The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31

By: Caelin Beaty


            I first saw John Carpenter’s The Thing when I was about 12 or so. Normally my parents wouldn’t have let me watch something so violent at that age, but I saw that it was going to air on HBO during a "free HBO weekends!", and so I set our VCR to record it. I later watched it, when no one was around, and it’s been one of my favorite horror movies ever since. 

 The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31

The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31

            I don’t think I had a very sophisticated understanding at the time of just what was so frightening about that movie. I loved the monster, the main characters, and, certainly, the gore. I even made a pretend bundle of dynamite out of some tape, yarn, and the cardboard tube from a wire coat hanger—cut up and taped together—and would reenact Kurt Russell’s final showdown with the monster—what a hero! I knew some of what made it so scary that the isolated setting (Antarctica) added to the eerie-loneliness of the story. I also knew that the monster’s ability to disguise itself as any human (the posters for the movie contained the tagline “man is the warmest place to hide”) made for an incredibly tense story full of paranoia. I don’t, however, think I realized the extent of just how effective that paranoia was until later. 

            I’ve seen the movie many times since then throughout the years, and I’ve realized that the paranoia the characters feel is really what makes the story hold up after all this time. It took me a while to realize this, but that's the driving force of the entire movie, and is captured perfectly in the game—I finally experienced just how frightening the paranoia, suspicion, and confusion was as I was sitting around the game table playing, laughing, and suspecting every one of my friends, as we played The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31. 

            Recently, USAopoly released The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31, based specifically on the 1982 John Carpenter movie. The game characters bare the likeness of the actors from the 1982 version (MacReady looks like Kurt Russell, and Blair like Wilford Brimley) as well as having the movie’s scenarios and settings (fun fact: in the original novella, the monster had blue hair that looked like worms and three “mad, hate-filled” red eyes). The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 is a hidden traitor game made for 4-8 players, with 8 players allowing for the best experience since it allows the monsters/infected to hide more easily. Players each control a character and are given a card, in secret, which lets them know if they are human or if they’re infected. The players then move from room-to-room within the Antarctic outpost, completing missions and gathering items needed to progress though the game. The infected, however, try and sabotage the missions without getting caught. The game is over when either the players completely sweep the base, gather the necessary items, and escape on the helicopter, or when the infected achieve one of their three win conditions. 

 Players either take the role of humans which try and escape, or infected which try and sabotage. 

Players either take the role of humans which try and escape, or infected which try and sabotage. 

            One of the things we noticed right away was that the monsters have a huge advantage over the humans. Not only do they have three ways to win, but the humans essentially have one, very difficult way of winning; the humans have to sweep the entire camp, escape in the helicopter—making sure none of the infected are aboard when they do—then get away in order to win. 

            Some have commented that the win conditions make the game unbalanced in favor of the monsters, but this seems to be more by design than by mistake—part of the horror, and effectiveness, of the movie is that there’s very little hope for the humans to stop the monster(s) from taking over the entire world. The game gets this, and creates what many of us felt was a welcome challenge to the players that were human—out of the three games we played, the humans only won once. We felt that this was a really effective translation of the movie. 

            One of the measurements of how well a licensed game reflects the original material is how well it captures the basic qualities of the source, and this is where The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 really shines. Sure, all the characters from the movie are there (we had a lot of fun with an intentional mispronunciation of the character name “Fuchs”), and all the moments from the movie are there, but what really makes the game a home run is the way it captured the paranoia the characters must have felt.

            The bluffing mechanics of the game allow for the monsters to lie about helping-out with a mission (then not actually help), secretly sabotage the mission, or even help out with the mission (in order to seem trustworthy). Since no one knows who’s human and who’s infected, this can cause everyone to turn on each other since no one knows who's helping and who's not—everyone develops their suspicions, but no one knows for sure. With a group of involved, engaged players, this opens the door for scenarios where one of the human players end up arguing their case to the rest of the group as to why they’re trustworthy and certainly human, whether they are or not. Who do you trust, and why? There were many times that the group became so paranoid that a human player ended up being targeted as infected, while the infected player went undiscovered. 

            We had nine different people play over three different games. Most hadn’t seen the movie (several didn’t know what it was about before playing) but all agreed it was an excellent game and a great example of how to use the hidden traitor mechanic effectively. As with any game it can all come down to the players, but The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 allows for a great gaming experience, no matter how familiar or not you are with the source material. The only tip we insist on leaving you with is this advice from Blair himself:

“Watch Clark. I said, watch Clark, and watch him close, you hear me?” 

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Finding Your Escape in Tabletop Gaming

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Finding Your Escape in Tabletop Gaming

By: Jayme Boucher
Special Thanks To: John Stephens, Total Escape Games
https://www.facebook.com/TotalEscapeGames/
http://totalescapegames.com/


When I first dipped my toes into the world of tabletop gaming, I was filled to the brim with conflicting emotions. While the giddiness of having stumbled upon something new and wonderful usually took the spotlight, there was, for a long time, also a persistent undercurrent of fear and doubt that couldn’t be ignored no matter how hard I tried.

All around me were opportunities to learn, the chance to meet new people from different walks of life, and a seemingly unlimited supply of games ripe for the picking… But there was also a voice deep within me, whispering, “I don’t know if you belong here. You aren’t cool. Everyone else learns faster than you do. There are too many games you’ve never even heard of before, and everyone but you already knows them.”

And so, ever the champion of the path of least resistance, I sincerely considered backing away from the hobby to salvage my tender self-worth via preventative measure. I’d probably have succeeded had I not been working at game conventions as part of my job at the time. It was purely thanks to being in the right place at the right time that I first encountered the mighty force that is the FLGS, which completely up-ended my attempts to back away with my tail between my legs.  

I’m going to save you the time I wasted trying to crack the acronym: FLGS stands for ‘Friendly Local Game Store’. As someone first discovering tabletop gaming, you, like myself, might not know that there are thousands of specialty stores devoted to the hobby, and that they are much more than a place to browse and purchase games. In fact, most contain the priceless tools needed for a reluctant newcomer to jump headfirst into proudly professing, “I’m a gamer!”

The confidence it took to use that word, “gamer”, to describe myself can be wholly attributed to my having met people who either own or work at these incredible stores. Through visiting several across the country, I not only gained a better understanding of the hobby at large, but also of the types of amazing and passionate people who have chosen to make a career out of being a hobby ambassador. Whether I was being introduced to new games to help me discover what I did or didn’t enjoy in my play experience, seeing and touching hands-on demos set up throughout the floor, or attending after-hours events that introduced me to people I truly enjoy being around, the FLGS experience was the missing piece that I’d felt the absence of when first entering the hobby.

 Devoted FLGS employee Jacinda teaches a group of three how to play one of our favorite games: King of Tokyo!

Devoted FLGS employee Jacinda teaches a group of three how to play one of our favorite games: King of Tokyo!

I recently reflected upon my personal experience with the General Manager of Total Escape Games in Broomfield, Colorado, John Stephens, and he acknowledged knowingly how overwhelming it can be for new customers to enter his store, let alone the hobby in general. When I picked his brain as to how he combats the obstacles that new gamers face, he explained that finding out WHY someone enters his space is key, since it serves not only to gauge their experiences thus far (and potentially apologize/rectify them), but also sets expectations of how to best serve them moving forward. While I understand that this all sounds perfectly reasonable and simple in theory, consider the last time you went shopping and were either harassed by pushy salespeople or worse- completely ignored when you wanted nothing more than someone to assist you.

The defining characteristic of employees at an FLGS is that they love to play. They understand the products and the culture of gaming, and because they value it so, they sincerely strive to share it with the rest of the world. John interacts with every member of his seven-person team on a weekly basis, ensuring that they understand how to play and teach new games being carried in-store. This greatly increases the likelihood that every single customer walking in the door will have a positive experience, since they are probably going to leave knowing something they didn’t when they arrived. What is it about this hobby that motivates people to be knowledge-hungry and crave the experience of gaming?

“For a set amount of time, we get to forget about reality.” John explained. “Being able to join a group hallucination is cool.”

He’s right, obviously. As I considered his sentiment, it really struck a chord with me. Most people I know, myself included, are exhausted by the amount of work, negativity, and responsibility weighing down our lives. Gaming fills a void that many aren’t able to articulate before experiencing something that counter-acts it, and I really do believe that this “missing piece” phenomenon explains the surge in popularity of tabletop gaming over the last few years.

 A small sample of the product offerings in store at Total Escape Games in Broomfield, Colorado. 

A small sample of the product offerings in store at Total Escape Games in Broomfield, Colorado. 

As I eyed photographs of Total Escape that John shared with me, marveling at the nearly thousand different games available to purchase, I asked John how he decides what titles to bring in store. With more than 3,000 new games a year being released into the market, he admits that picking what to sell can be a real challenge. A huge chunk of his time is spent doing research online and in gaming magazines, consulting with a network of other store owners across the country, and frequently traveling to conventions and trade shows to physically see and test new games coming soon. In fact, all his travel totaled up currently has him away from the store for nearly four months out of the year!

“I never have to sell a product I don’t believe in.” he explained. “There are always good products in the pile!”   

In addition to the robust play space available at his store (which can seat up to 70 people and which boasts an impressive schedule of events – one for every single night of the week!), John also brings games to people in the outside world to boost awareness of the hobby. At a local Gifted & Talented school, he hosts Magic: The Gathering Tournaments, and teaches game design classes to those eager to create projects of their own.

He told me, “If you can teach a kid to play games, you’re training the next generation of gamers. They’ll train others for you!” This description of the snowball effect resonated with me, and I chuckled thinking about how much of a gaming advocate I’ve morphed into since I was at first too afraid to even ask to sit down at a table with someone I didn’t know.

To combat the chance of customers feeling unwelcome, Total Escape employs a strict inclusivity policy. His customers range in age from children to senior citizens, and when I asked about the participants at events, he beamed describing the diverse groups he gets in store, squashing the image media has painted in our heads of the type of people expected to hang out playing D&D in a dingy basement.

“Every time we allow messaging or an experience that isn’t inclusive, we don’t only hurt our own store – we hurt the hobby.” He went on, “Every time we live up to the stereotype of the ‘unwashed nerd’, we fail.” This message, this mission, is that of an FLGS that is going to ensure that people like me return for more.

In the span of a couple of years, my tabletop journey has oscillated between the rush of discovering something new and wonderful to the crushing anxiety of feeling like an ill-prepared imposter, to finally finding a space where I felt welcome, supported, and even empowered. The discovery of the resource that is the Friendly Local Game Store has allowed me to experience tabletop gaming in a way that reassured me that I did, in fact, have a place in this hobby, and that even I can escape reality whenever I choose.

I strongly encourage anybody feeling reluctant about gaming to be transparent about it. Tell your friends, tell the owners of the stores you shop at. Tell us, and maybe we can help you find an FLGS near you! Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, because the truth is: you could be missing out on the best part of your life, and now that the hobby has it’s hooks in me, I’m here to help you find your place beside me. -JB

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Active Player Network: The Beginning

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Active Player Network: The Beginning

By: Bobby Stickel


"Empowering our community to prioritize play." That’s the mission statement that launched every project we outlined for building this brand. And it’s one that means a lot to our team, and to me personally. At the start of the brainstorming process, we narrowed down a long list of words that we wanted the Active Player Network to communicate and represent. We settled on the following:

  • Multifaceted
  • Modern
  • Energetic
  • Welcoming
  • Imaginative
  • Dynamic
  • Progressive

We spent several hours over several meetings over several days, each person sharing their vision and their personal experiences that they felt would add to our mission.

Next, we needed a logo, and I want to give a little insight as to how the logo was born. I had a lot of prerequisites for the team going into this process. One of them was ‘no meeples.’ It seems like every logo has a meeple in it, and we simply didn’t want to add to that noise. At the same time, this logo needed to be very identifiable by our audience, so the iconography needed to make our target audience ‘feel at home.’ Yes, d20s are also common, but in the end we made it our own when we merged the d20 with a pineapple (like you do).

Wait, what?! Pull up a chair and hear me out.

I’ll spare you all the research I did and will just pare it down for you: The pineapple has been an American and European symbol- in architecture, in international trade, and in the home- as a symbol of ‘welcoming, community, hospitality, and prosperity.’ Author Lynn Means writes:

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Warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality.

Today you can find fine examples of this detail throughout many historic homes and estates in the South. Be sure to particularly look around main entrances and walkways, where guests would be most likely to pass or linger. Two favorite pineapple locations were the pediment or transom over the front door, and finials on or around the front gate. And if you look carefully around the inside of these old homes, it’s not uncommon to find the pineapple cleverly carved in areas around the main foyer, staircase and fireplace mantles – again, places where visitors would tend to gather.”

There was our connection! Our hobby, at its core, is about gathering together and sharing a good time with one another. We’ve all read countless articles about how the tabletop gaming hobby fosters social networking, communication skills, stronger relationships, etc.  We wanted our new brand to be a living ambassador of all those qualities. But we also wanted anyone NOT currently in our hobby to feel welcome. Remove barriers to entry, take down walls of social stigma, bring people of all walks of life together using the best tool we all have access to: Play!

With centuries of symbolism already a part of our logo, and the ubiquitous d20 to help everyone understand our very social hobby, we felt like we finally had proper representation of the Active Player Network’s mission of ‘empowering our community to prioritize play', which brings us to today.

Welcome to the Active Player Network!

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