Category Nerd Writing

Podcasting for Thought: Gaming

Is there any greater innovation in the last few years than the podcast? Other than the continuing proliferation of bacon wrapped foods, probably not. We decided to put together so lists of our top podcasts in various categories. First up, our list of the best podcasts for boardgames and RPGs, plus we threw in a few extras (because we love you).

Our Favorite Gaming Podcasts

The Dice Tower
The gold standard of board game podcasting, Tom Vasel and Eric Sumner provide an excellent podcast of news, reviews and weekly topics that cover all things gaming. Amazing production values and two hosts who know what they’re doing make this one a must.

The Dungeons & Dragons Podcast
While updated infrequently, the official D&D podcast is great for two reasons. They regularly talk about the DNDNext playtest now and give great behind the scenes stories, but the real reason to subscribe to this is to listen to the Penny-Arcade/PVP adventures. Sadly only an annual event at PAX Prime, the experience of listening to the legendary Chris Perkins lead Gabe, Tyco, Scott Kurtz and Wil Wheaton through a campaign can truly be described as epic. Go through the archive and listen to them all.

Drive to Work
Relatively new to the podcasting scene, Mark Rosewater has been the head designer of Magic the Gathering for years now. The podcast is a simple premise: he picks a topic and talks about it on his morning commute to Wizards. Fans of Magic will love the insight, history and stories, but the production values aren’t the best – mostly because Mark just records it on his iPhone while driving. Though it does mean when there is a traffic delay or he needs gas, you get extra material.

Roleplaying Public Radio Actual Play
For Actual Play sessions of various games, it’s hard to beat Roleplaying Public Radio. The band of gamers is very experienced and do admirable and interesting jobs with everything from Dungeons & Dragons to Call of Cthulhu to Wild Talents. If you’re considering an RPG and they’ve done it, I recommend downloading it to see what it can do. They also have a gaming tips podcast to add to the above. Audio Games
The Bradford Players’ Call of Cthulhu audio games have several things going for them. First of all, they’re British and those calming accents go a long way towards softening the blow of a sudden byakhee attack. Secondly, they are professional actors so count on some quality roleplaying. And thirdly… well the games are just awesome. Listen to Horrors on the Orient Express and tell me you can still sleep through the night.

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Castles and Cooks Holiday Gift Guide

Buying gifts for gamers can be a real challenge. They are constantly picking up the newest games, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering might as well be foreign languages. So the Castles & Cooks brain trust joined forces to come up with 25 fantastic holiday gifts in a variety of price points.

Chocolate Dice – $8
If you need a stocking stuffer for any tabletop player, get them a delicious treat in the shape of a set of dice. It’s cheap, adorable and delicious. Available in white, 6o% and dark chocolate.

Bag O Zombies – $10
This is a bag of 100 zombies for $10, how is that not awesome? Any self-respecting DM can find a reason to use these, but when don’t you need a bag of zombies? It doesn’t matter if you play ZOMBIES or not – and they come in regular zombie gray or glow-in-the-dark!

LEGO Gandalf Arrives – $13
Lord of the Rings holds a special place in almost every geek’s heart, but as a desktop decoration, they don’t get more perfect than this. Gandalf’s cart is adorable and full of fireworks and a LEGO Frodo may be the cutest thing in the world.

Hogwarts Acceptance Letter – $15
Even if it didn’t arrive on your 11th birthday, getting a personalized acceptance letter to Hogwarts will bring a smile to any wizard’s holiday.

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Of Dice and Men Premiering in NYC on July 7th!

Playwright, actor, builder of America, postage enthusiast, and friend of the site Cameron McNary’s grand gaming opus Of Dice and Men is finally getting a premiere in New York City. The play about a group of 30 something D&D players has had performances on the West coast and even a college production, but this will be the first time it appears in New York City.

On July 7th the show will debut as part of the Brick Theater’s GAMEPLAY 2012, a festival inspired by gaming. The show is being performed by the Dysfunctional Theater Company and will run from July 7th till the 27th. A full calendar and tickets are available at the Brick Theater website and go for $15.

We cannot urge you enough to go see this play. Whether you are a gamer, just know some gamers, or enjoy funny and cathartic experiences, this is the show for you. Since the first PAX East, three years ago, when Jesse and I saw the first stage reading, we’ve been hooked.

If you aren’t sure (why the hell not!?) then check out the e-book version of the play. You can read an excerpt for free or just buy it (a much better option). It is available in every e-book format imaginable here.

Also here’s a trailer for the performance.

Seriously, stop reading and buy a ticket. We’ll see you at the show.

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In Defense of Casual Magic: the Gathering – Why I Play

With the release of Planechase 2 just a matter of days away, I’ve noticed the schism returning between casual and competitive Magic players. As someone who hasn’t played Standard since it was called “Type II” and Dark Fires was gaining traction, I have been firmly planted in the casual side of Magic for over a decade, and playing for almost twice that long.

I started playing the game in 1994 thanks to my older brother getting into it after we went on a skiing trip. From then on, I played for a few years very casually before meandering away from the game. It wasn’t until the release of Tempest that I got back into the game in 6th grade when my best friend Adam told me about how he discovered this amazing new game. Within a few months, I was back into it.

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Arena Impressions: Heroscape

I don’t know what happened to me in high school, but for some reason I stopped playing games. Aside from the rounds of Apples to Apples, Super Smash Bros Melee and Shrek Super Party, that was all I played. I barely touched Magic between my sophomore year of high school and freshman year of college. So maybe I’m just actively trying to make up for lost time – like getting addicted to Heroscape eight years after it debuted and being forced to scavenge the secondary market for parts and pieces.

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Fortune’s Favor: Luck vs Skill in Gaming

A common refrain you will find around any gaming table or club is “you won because you got lucky.” Or, “I don’t like playing this game, it’s based too much on luck.”

Everyone would like to assume that when we sit down to play a game the outcome is predominantly based on our skills. We win because of superior tactics and decision making, and others lose because they are stupid. This is almost never the case, except for the stupid part. Stupid people lose ALL the time, and sometimes stupid people win, but usually because someone else at the table was even dumber, but I digress.

When we win we want to emphasize how much our own skill contributed to victory. Yet when we lose, many are more than happy to blame it purely on being unlucky, hence the aforementioned utterances.

Aside from being annoying, and belittling the person who was victorious, there’s a problem with constantly invoking luck as an excuse. Aside from a few exceptions, like chess and checkers, all games involve a healthy amount of luck. You might as well use the excuse, “you won because you sat down to play the game.”

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Star Wars Episode I in 3-D: What Does it Mean?

You may have heard. Star Wars is returning to theaters with the release of Episode I today. If it does well the other 5 films might also get the 3D treatment. If it performs poorly, that is less likely. There’s neither a timetable for future 3-D adaptations, nor is there a really great explanation of what “performing well” entails.

Before I go any further, let’s get a few things out of the way. Yes the prequels are bad. Yes they pale in comparison to the originals. Yes George Lucas has done more harm than good in altering the canon several times. No he hasn’t raped your childhood. Yes it is his story and he can do what he wants with it. I hate having to waste time with that but it seems like you can’t have any sensible Star Wars discussion without all of those tired refrains being spit at you. No one ever says anything new.

With that taken care of, a question remains. How much does The Phantom Menace being re-released matter? Admittedly we could analyze that on a number of levels. How does it matter to Star Wars fans, the movie industry and box office in general, the evolution of 3D, or for future 3D conversion re releases like Titanic? Frankly, I’m more interested in the first question than any of the others, because I am selfish and that one concerns me. We’ll touch a bit on the others as we go.

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Nerd Girl Problems: Valentine’s Day

I must admit, whether you’re single or in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is a BIG problem holiday.  Nerd girls may find that they will relate to girls of a similar relationship status on February 14th, regardless of interests.

If you’re single, a tiny part of you is mad at the world for flaunting their coupley happiness in your face.  If you’re in a relationship, it’s awkward to find that balance between meaningful romance and seemingly mandatory traditions pushed onto you and your partner by cold-faced greeting card corporations, all while trying to not annoy your single friends and betray your formerly-single self. Phew!

Well, this Valentine’s Day, I hope you find your Scott to your Ramona. Your Inara to your Mal.  Your Angel to your Buffy.  Your Willow to your Tara.  Your Jack to your Ianto.  Wow, now that I think about it, a lot of couples in nerdom are fraught with hardship, death, and your partner turning evil after sex.  Now THAT’s a nerd girl problem!  I hope your romantic exploits fare better!  I have five more problems for you under the cut,

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Star Wars and More: An Interview with Author Drew Karpyshyn

In my review of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, I talked about how impressed I was by author Drew Karpyshyn’s ability to craft a main character that was completely undefined, and yet known to thousands of fans. So I figured what better way to gain a little more insight into the process then by asking the man himself.

Aside from Revan, Drew and I discussed writing in the Old Republic setting, how he views writing for video games, his plans for future writing projects and what he would do if George Lucas asked him to write Episode 7 (this needs to happen for many many many reasons).

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Gingerbread Hogwarts!

Reddit user jennywren15 and friends crafted a stunning copy of Hogwarts out of delicious cookies and candies for the holidays! Be sure to check out the whole album, because this is both delicious and nerdy.

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