Gaming tagged posts

Star Wars Edge of the Empire: Being a GM

The Castles & Cooks team finally sat down to play a proper game of Star Wars Edge of the Empire. We already did a review of the core rulebook, but after spending time with character creation, the world and the game itself we’re back to discuss the experience of playing the game. Today we tackle the game from the role of the GM (or DM), and tomorrow we’ll look at it from the perspective of the players.

As someone who has played several RPGs, but only ever been the GM in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) I must express a bit of trepidation that arose prior to my first session with Edge of the Empire. This game and this system are decidedly different from D&D, not just in how the game adjudicates combat or the addition of vehicles and rules for space combat.

Even using the book adventure as my guide, I still felt the need for an extended prep period. This wasn’t because I hadn’t played the game before (that was a small part of it), but because the way storytelling is woven into the fabric of everything the game does forces the GM to be prepared for unexpected moments. The PCs have more control over twisting the plot and taking the story in a new direction than they do in something like D&D.

How does this work and where did it impact my role as GM? Let’s break it down: 

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Of Dice and Men Levels Up from Play to Movie

Of Dice and Men (ODaM), the play about what it’s really like to play D&D, by Cameron McNary, is becoming a film. We’ve been talking about this play since Castles and Cooks began, and have tracked it from a humble stage reading at the first PAX East, to the first staged production at PAX Prime 2010, all the way through its various performances around the country, including at the Brick theatre in New York City in July of 2012.

Based on a screenplay by the man himself, McNary and a team of talented thespians will be bringing the hilarious, heart warming, and occasionally gut wrenching adventures of one middle aged D&D group to the big screen. The story is a “blisteringly funny and deeply affecting comedy feature film about six tabletop roleplaying gamers and what happens when one of them enlists to go to Iraq.”

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Green, Golgari & Gruul

The final piece of the Dragon’s Maze casual and commander review takes a look at the green offers (not much), explores the undead Golgari (so much fun) and unleashes the Gruul clans on some unsuspecting individuals. As an added bonus, I also talk about a land!

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos | Red, Izzet & Boros
Green, Golgari & Gruul

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Battering Krasis

LAND SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAARK! A decent little beater, I wouldn’t mind trying out the fish beast in some version of 10-land stompy, but he’s more limited than I’d like.

Kraul Warrior

The newest Invoker, Kraul Warrior doesn’t do a whole lot and is hampered by his creature types.

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Red, Izzet & Boros

Personally, when it comes to Commander, this entire block has had a lot of disappoints for me. But that’s because I run a monored Jaya deck in the format, so multicolored options limit me a lot. But when I’m not playing Commander, I love basking in all the colors – and Boros is one of my favorite color pairings.

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos | Red, Izzet & Boros

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Awe of the Guilds

Mostly limited fodder, Awe of the Guilds can make for some interesting plays due to its limitations. But being sorcery speed means you can’t use it to screw combats you aren’t directly involved with.

Clear a Path

Well, you now have a way to stop Wall of Deni- nope, you still don’t.

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Black, Dimir & Rakdos

This review takes the darkest color and pairs it up with its two natural allies in a delicious Grixis blend. Black is always fun in multiplayer, but when combined with red or blue, it is a combination of colors that can do pretty much anything. So whether you like the secrecy of Dimir, the recklessness of Rakdos or the selfishness of black, this Dragon’s Maze review is for you.

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos |

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Bane Alley Blackguard

This is an odd vanilla creature. But Wizards is shifting black into the higher toughness than power bracket with this set. But for me to care about a vanilla creature, it has to do something special.

Blood Scrivener

The power of this card is absurd. Being a 2/1 zombie for 1B is already solid, but that ability is exceptional. As someone who’s playstyle regularly goes all-in, having a quick way to refill your hand is nice. It pairs wonderfully with Hellbent in a twisted way, but what I really love is that it triggers whenever you would draw a card – not just during your draw step.

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D&D Home Brew: The Escalation Die

When it comes to RPGs and gaming, everyone has a favorite system. For us, it’s Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). It’s where we started with RPGs and we have the best command of the various iterations and intricacies of that system. Yet inspiration and innovation can come from many places, so when we find a mechanic we like in other systems we always like to think of how we home brew a version for D&D.

The “Escalation Die”

Where we found it: This is a mechanic that exists in a few other RPGs, but most notably 13th Age which is an RPG developed by a few of the lead designers on D&D 3rd and 4th editions.

What is it: A mechanic aimed at speeding up combat by giving ever increasing bonuses to attack rolls as combat rounds progress. Enemies become easier to attack, meaning characters get “stronger” the longer a fight goes on. It starts at +1 and increases each round toward a max of +6.

Why is it important: Combat takes a long time in D&D. This was especially true in 4th edition, and while D&D Next has some specific changes that address that issue, combat can still be a real grind sometimes. After enough rounds it just degenerates into players aimlessly hacking away at monsters till they die, and that’s if the players are rolling well. The Escalation die reduces and improves combat by increasing the chance that players will hit, and effectively encouraging risky or fun actions because of the attack bonus.

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Blue, Simic & Azorius

The second part of our Dragon’s Maze review looks at the color Blue and two guilds: Simic and Azorious! These blue aligned guilds show off just how versatile the color of manipulation can get when paired up. But even mono-color players will want to take a look at some of the offerings.

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Ætherling

The new Morphling feels a touch out of place to me for one reason:  where are my white and black lings? We’ve gotten Torching and Thornling! But Ætherling is an interesting take on the Morphling design. The bigger body is nice, and the self-flickering is very powerful. While not a ground breaking card, it certainly is worth considering if you run the original depending on the speed of your playgroup. The only real concern about him is the casting cost. While he costs 6 on paper, he really costs 7 or more since you’ll want to protect him too.

Hidden Strings

Dimir’s new Cipher spell is close to what people wanted. While I had been hoping the Dragon’s Maze would combine abilities across guilds – like Cipher Detain, this is still close. A different take on Hands of Binding, the ability to untap another permanent makes it so the attacking creature has vigilance or can be used to barter deals with unlikely allies at the table in times of need. A solid little cipher spell, it’s what I had been hoping the ability would do.

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Kickstarter: Helping Girls Become Gamers with Fairy Mischief

One of the things about gaming that I enjoy most is helping to bring new people to the hobby, introducing them to games and teaching them the rules and strategies of others. However, I’ve yet to try doing this with little kids, but it sounds like that would be difficult. Luckily for all of us, the game designers over at Funto11 are working on doing just that with their latest Kickstarter endeavor, Fairy Mischief.

Fairy Mischief is a card game from Funto11, makers of Miskatonic School for Girls and Flame War. The game is aimed at trying to get kids, specifically young girls, to make the transition from simple games, like the card game War, up to tabletop games by introducing them to new gameplay types, simple strategies and mechanics.

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Kickstarter Round-up: March 25 – 29

Kickstarter is quickly becoming a favorite place for us here at Castles and Cooks to mine for our next great game or piece of cooking equipment. While the risks are well established, the chance to discover something truly unique is one of the things that keeps us coming back for more. From time to time we’ll aggregate our favorite Kickstarters here and tell you why they are worth supporting.

Methodology: We do not actually back every project listed in this round-up (though we do specifically indicate those projects we have helped fund). The projects that we choose are based on several factors, but we tend to gravitate toward projects that have low risk, great value, and where there is excellent communication about the economics. It also helps for the product to just be awesome, something that we would want to play or use.

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Kickstarter Round-Up: March 10 – 15

Kickstarter is quickly becoming a favorite place for us here at Castles and Cooks to mine for our next great game or piece of cooking equipment. While the risks are well established, the chance to discover something truly unique is one of the things that keeps us coming back for more. From time to time we’ll aggregate our favorite Kickstarters here and tell you why they are worth supporting.

Methodology: We do not actually back every project listed in this round-up (though we do specifically indicate those projects we have helped fund). The projects that we choose are based on several factors, but we tend to gravitate toward projects that have low risk, great value, and where there is excellent communication about the economics. It also helps for the product to just be awesome, something that we would want to play or use.

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