9
Sep

Custom Gaming: Zombicide – Marvel’s Avengers

   Posted by: Jesse   in Gaming

There came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat: the undead.

This is the world of Marvel Zombicide.

The biggest question we got as soon as we finished Zombicide: Gotham City was one we were expecting: when are you doing Marvel? Tom and I thought about it for a while, but it wasn’t until more information about Season 3 came to light that we finally felt like maybe – just maybe – this could actually work. And we got to work designing, concepting and playtesting our newest project: Marvel Zombicide.

First was figuring out what heroes we wanted for Marvel Zombicide. While our general rule of “no metas” still stands, you’ll see that we’ve been able to create some fun dynamic characters that are wholly unique, but don’t destroy the core experience of Zombicide. Using the Marvel Cinematic Universe as our guide, we developed our core roster, and threw in a few others. Because what would Marvel be without a web-head and a savage Canadian?  While we’re almost certainly missing someone’s favorite hero (we know the omission of the Fantastic Four is particularly glaring – but that is an all-or-nothing team), we also made the choice to focus solely on heroes. Read the rest of this entry »

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8
Aug

The Strange: People and Places

   Posted by: Colin   in Gaming, Reviews

 

Hopefully you read the One-Hour Review of The Strange so you’re all caught up on the player side of things. If not, we’ll give you a chance to get it together. Caught up? Alright!

This time, we’re looking at things from the GM perspective: the latter parts of The Strange core book that deal with the stuff you need to run a game of The Strange. In my experience with Numenera, it’s hard with this system to get players to take on the role of “sole determiners of rolls” in the game (being the only ones rolling dice) so I’m hoping for some information included in that. Also, creatures in Numenera are often pretty focused in their abilities and maneuvers. This is great when those maneuvers are evocative and not so much when they are repetitive.

Lastly, the setting of The Strange is dominated by three worlds: Earth, Ardeyn, and Ruk. They seem cool and interesting, but I’ve been promised “Worlds teeming with life, with discovery, with incredible treasures, and with sudden death.” I want to make sure there’s enough in these three worlds to keep my players occupied and, more importantly, that these aren’t the only kids on the block to contend with or it’ll be more Forgotten Realms than Sliders.

And with that, we’re off! Read the rest of this entry »

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6
Aug

One-Hour Library Review: The Strange

   Posted by: Colin   in Gaming, Reviews

Beneath the orbits and atoms of our natural universe lies a network of dark energy. Those who have learned to access and navigate this chaotic sea have discovered an almost endless set of “recursions” in the shoals of our Earth: Worlds with their own laws of reality, reflected from human experience or imagination, given form in the swirling Chaosphere of the Strange. Worlds teeming with life, with discovery, with incredible treasures, and with sudden death.

Worlds sometimes jealous of our own.

-From Monte Cook Games

Readers of the site might remember my review of Numenera, the first game published with the Cypher System. You might also recall that some of us here at Castles & Cooks backed the Kickstarter campaign for The Strange back in the fall of last year. All this is to say that this review will be my first hour with the book but that I know something about it already.

This game is even more of a chance for Monte Cook to show off what remains of Planescape than Numenera was. Earth in this setting is surrounded by a mysterious alien data network that can create other dimensions, and those with “the spark” are able to transfer between these dimensions (called recursions) to defend the Earth from nefarious plane-hoppers and primordial evils out to destroy it. Sound familiar?

Like Numenera, characters in The Strange are constructed with the following formula: “I am an adjective noun who verbs.” The nouns (or Character Types) in The Strange are vectors, paradoxes, and spinners rather than the glaives, nanos, and jacks of Numenera with a similar spread of specialties. Your Character Descriptor (the “adjective” part) remains with your character (so that you’re always “Clever” or “Stealthy”) but the Character Focus (the “verb” part) switches with each recursion as characters create an appropriate body for themselves that blends in with the locals and follows the recursion’s laws (some recursions have magic, some have bioengineering, etc). Your focus then changes with each jump allowing you to try new options all the time. Personally, I’m very excited to see how this plays out because it seems like such a natural fit for the Cypher System.

Alright, so that’s what I know so far. Let’s crack open this pdf and see how it ticks!

Read the rest of this entry »

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4
Aug

Kickstarter: Vaults Impressions

   Posted by: Tom   in Gaming, Kickstarter

A card game set in the steampunk world, where the goal is to assemble a crack team of vault breakers and try to collect enough wealth to become the richest crime lord in the city sounds like something that should have already existed. A concept so succinct and on point that it should be taken as a complete and utter failure of society that it didn’t exist previously. We’re all to blame on this one. Luckily, the folks over at Four Hogs are seeking to remedy that with their Kickstarted game VAULTS.

The core of the game is action management. Playing cards, gathering cards, cracking open safes, assembling or reorganizing your teams; all of these are choices that players can make that use up one or most of a set of actions that each players receives per turn. Players start each turn with 3 actions to use on the aforementioned choices of building up a team, trying to crack a vault, or gathering more cards to find the perfect team member or piece of equipment for the next job. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zombicide Season 3: Rue Morgue, and the newest expansion Angry Neighbors, are just days away from closing one of the most successful board game Kickstarters of all time. No surprise for the gaming franchise that has routinely smashed Kickstarter records, with Seasons 1 and 2. As we head into the home stretch, here are the 5 biggest things you need to know about the new season: including, new mechanics, new threats and some very special survivors.

Read the rest of this entry »

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30
May

Portals of the Week

   Posted by: Jesse   in Links

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23
May

Portals of the Week

   Posted by: Jesse   in Links

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16
May

Portals of the Week

   Posted by: Tom   in Links

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If you ever had grand ideas about working in a kitchen or becoming a chef you should probably abandon them. Though many books have exposed the arduous process of becoming a chef, rarely have we seen the sheer weight of the obligations, routine and pressure to perform laid so bare before us.

Such is the accomplishment of Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line, the first book by Michael Gibney. Gibney is the former executive chef at Tavern on the Green. He’s worked for a who’s who of prestigeous restaurants including: Per Se, Le Bernardin, Bouley, Ducasse, wd~50, and Momofuku.

That accumulated wealth of top level culinary experience lends itself to the exacting tone and beat of his walk through a day in the life of a sous chef. Events others might simply omit or gloss over are meticulously retold, and at times you almost assume that he had videotaped his time in the kitchen with his near perfect recall. This book will probably leave you  to conclude – as I did – the following: the job of being a chef is impossible. It can’t be done and to harbor any dreams or delusions about becoming a rockstar chef is a fool’s errand. And yet, people do it.

It is that exacting detail that is the true brilliance of this book. The intricate, painstaking, sensual anecdotes that Gibney gives us to place us firmly in the “you” role of the sous chef. The book is written in 2nd person, forcing the reader to inhabit the character of a sous chef working the line on a 300 hundred cover (300 guest) night at a 90 seat Manhattan restaurant.

The book begins with a map displaying the layout of the restaurant kitchen. Though Gibney later explains that each restaurant kitchen is unique in terms of size, shape, and overall design; that many factors and stations are universal. From studying the map we learn about “the pass” – the area all food travels through between cooking and plating for service, the various food stations and prep areas, as well as walk ins, loading docks, offices and locker rooms.

The crucial factor is that we learn more than just that these places exist. We learn both their importance and their physical location, how one relates to the other to create the unique eco-system that allows a kitchen staff to thrive. Gibney isn’t satisfied to simply give us an annotated map. The book begins with “you”, the sous chef, arriving at an empty restaurant and walking his way through the entire kitchen, preparing for the day: checking the inventory, cleanliness, and state of his world; while pondering the physical and mental strain that is to come. This kind of exposition might seem…odd…boring even, but Gibney’s lively prose and description makes the journey through a deserted restaurant absolutely sing. Read the rest of this entry »

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17
Mar

Arena Review: Dragon’s Hoard

   Posted by: Tom   in Gaming, Kickstarter, Reviews

Everyone is always trying to slay the dragon. I don’t really mean that figuratively, though it certainly works. I mean literally. Look through the fantasy genre and see how many characters define their very existence by the struggle to hunt down and kill one (or more) of those winged beasts (of varying colors). Games are no different. So, what if a game turned that idea on its head and let you play as the dragon. Would you be interested? Of course.

Suggested Ages: 8+
Suggested Players: 2 to 4 players
Playing time: 20 to 40 minutes
Contents: 95 playing cards, rulebook, Kickstarter exclusive: Unicorn promo action cards.
Retail price: $20, available on Amazon.

Enter Dragon’s Hoard, the Kickstarter funded card game that places you firmly in the role of a fire breathing, gold hording, winged beast out to claim all the lavish treasures and sheep (dragons gotta eat) in the land. Read the rest of this entry »

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