Gaming tagged posts

Evil Intent, Kraken Games, and How to Revive a Failed Kickstarter

The world of Kickstarter is rife with opportunity and tragedy. The independent crowd source funding site has gained widespread attention and popularity for the staggering money that developers across industries have raised by appealing directly to consumers.

Yet for every Double Fine Adventure and Zombicide there are dozens of projects that barely raise any money at all, and fall well short of funding goals. According to a study by Ethan Mollick of UPenn in 2012, only 3% of projects that fail get even 50% toward their goal. With all of the odds seemingly stacked against projects that don’t take off, it seems crazy to think that a company would go back to Kickstarter a second time after failing.

Enter Evil Intent, the first project from Kraken Games, a small Houston based gaming company currently operating out of a home office. In it you play as an evil mastermind with plans to takeover the world. Trouble is all of your opponents have the same idea. Players take turns trying to accumulate resources and assets to achieve their secret evil scheme all while trying to prevent their rivals from doing the same. The game calls for 2-6 players and scales in duration based on the number of players.

Evil Intent first was posted to Kickstarter in the latter half of 2012. It had a funding goal of around $55,000, but by the end of fundraising it hadn’t even reached 50% (the final tally was $23,439). Many people would have given up, perhaps moved on to other projects. Instead Kraken Games re-tooled, fueled by feedback from backers, and returned to Kickstarter with a vengeance – and a funding goal that was cut by more than half!

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Arena Review: Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game

I’ve always balked a little bit on dueling miniatures games. Partly because restricting a game to 1 on 1 doesn’t really do a lot for me when hanging out with a group of friends, but also because I’ve never found them a lot of fun. But I love Star Wars, so when the X-Wing Miniatures game was released, I was somewhat interested. Then I saw the ship models and everything changed.

Suggested ages: 13 and up
Number of players: 2
Playing time: 15 – 20 minutes
Contents: Rulebook, Quick-start rulebook,  1 X-Wing and 2 Tie Fighters with stands & bases, ship tokens, dice, range ruler, obstacle markers, maneuver templates, 3 maneuver dials, damage/upgrade cards, ship cards, action tokens, mission tokens.
Retail price: $43.99 available on

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Picking Up the Paintbrush: 6 Tips for Getting Started

Months ago, I backed Zombicide on Kickstarter. My friends and I play it regularly still (though not as much as I would like), after a few games, we got annoyed that all the zombies were the same shade of gray. The abominations and fatties were nicely differentiated, but the runners and walkers were all too easy to mix up as the hordes got massive.

So I decided to start painting my set (and if you like us on Facebook, you may have seen some of them already). All of them, which is over 100 miniatures. Here’s the catch: I’ve never painted miniatures before.

I’ve dabbled in customizing action figures in the past, but miniature painting is a new subject. Here’s what I’ve learned after painting over 100 figures.

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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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Custom Gaming: Parks & Recreation Arkham Horror

Today may be Halloween and while I was tempted to go very spooky-scary, I went the other direction of the NBC Thursday night lineup (and not Community) – Parks & Recreation! Months ago we teased Jean-Ralphio on Facebook, and now here are three more. Are these tested? Nope! Will they work? Probably not! Want some actual insight into Arkham Horror – check out our review of every single expansion. To the cards!

I still think Jean-Ralphio is my favorite, only because I don’t know how Ron Swanson would react to C’thulhu waking from his slumber. I assume he would punch him. Repeatedly.

For America.

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D&D Next: The Advantage of Advantage

Since the start of the D&D Next play tests, one of the more scrutinized mechanics has been the advantage/disadvantage system. The system affects die rolls for various checks, but instead of the standard +/- modifier system, it gives the player another roll of the d20. Players with advantage would roll the d20 twice and use the higher result. Players with disadvantage would do the same, but use the lower of the two.

There has been a lot of debate and analysis on this, including tons of mathematical modeling to show the effect on the probabilities of individual dice rolls. If you’re interested, check out this article, this one, and this forum. Both articles look at the math and do a nice job of breaking down exactly what it all means in case numbers aren’t your strong suit. The forum, well it’s an Internet forum so you know what you’ll get, but there are decent arguments being made for and against.

I can appreciate the statistical analysis and arguments about power creep and whether the system has a stronger or weaker effect than the +2/-2 modifier system we are used to seeing. I get all that. However, I’m more interested in the sub-question that seems to come up in all of these articles and runs as the undercurrent to the whole advantage discussion: Is this D&D?

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Arena Review: Planechase 2 Savage Auras

Planechase 2 (2012) Reviews
Chaos Reigns | Night of the Ninja | Primordial Hunger | Savage Auras

The final Planechase 2 deck personally offends me. As someone who has been playing white-green aura decks for the better part of the last 15 years, I have no idea how Wizards thought they could make a white and green aura deck and not include Armadillo Cloak in it! Is it because it doesn’t actually have lifelink? Is that why Wizards? Why don’t you just keep rubbing salt in my wounds!

Savage Auras is a deck that will teach people just how terrible many auras are. With elements of Voltron decks, Savage Auras looks fine on paper but after playing a few games with it, I quickly realized it doesn’t work. Totem Armor helps and Rancor is always awesome, but most of the time you’re still just hoping people won’t immediately exile your cards.

Like the other Planechase 2 decks, Savage Auras includes 8 new planes, 2 phenomena and six brand new cards (five of which are exclusive to this deck).

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Arena Review: Planechase 2 Primordial Hunger

Planechase 2 (2012) Reviews
Chaos Reigns | Night of the Ninja | Primordial Hunger | Savage Auras

The third Planechase 2 set doesn’t really go for subtlety. Like many red-green decks, Primordial Hunger really has a single goal: make the biggest creatures and then smash people repeatedly with them until they die. That’s about it.

Using tokens and smaller creatures as fodder for dragons and other devouring beasts, you don’t want to get attached to any creatures in your deck (or on your battlefield) because a bigger one will probably eat them in a turn or two.

Like the other sets, six new cards are included in Primordial Hunger. But unlike the others, some of these cards don’t really make sense to me as a Planechase multiplayer release. They’re good cards, but kind of boring. But I guess this means we aren’t going back to devour as a mechanic any time soon.

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Arena Review: Planechase 2 Night of the Ninja

Planechase 2 (2012) Reviews
Chaos Reigns | Night of the Ninja | Primordial Hunger | Savage Auras

I think my favorite part about Planechase 2 is that Wizards used it as a fantastic opportunity to revisit older mechanics and breathe new life into them in ways that just wouldn’t work for a regular release. Ninjutsu is a great mechanic but is very limited by the fact that it can only appears on ninja cards (much like how bushido is only on samurai – even though Chub Toad has it!). Given how poorly received Kamigawa was as a whole, it isn’t a plane I see us going back to any time son.

Night of the Ninja is a blue-black deck that makes the most of unblockable creatures and turning them into ninjas over and over again, while constantly triggering entering and leaving the battlefield abilities. Much like Chaos Reigns, Night of the Ninja contains six new cards (though one of them is in each deck). The actual packaging and set are more of the same as Chaos Reigns, though the deck boxes are a nice touch. Except for the part where a sleeved deck won’t fit in them.

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Arena Review: Planechase 2 Chaos Reigns

Planechase 2 (2012) Reviews
Chaos Reigns | Night of the Ninja | Primordial Hunger | Savage Auras

With Planechase 2 finally released, it’s exciting to look at the new cards offered in deck deck – along with the new Planes and Phenomena! What I find most interesting about Planechase is I don’t know a single playgroup that actually plays it the way it was designed with individual 10 card planar decks. Every group I’ve played in has ended up using some variation of the Eternities Map. I guess you would call that the universal planar singularity.

The “Chaos Reigns” deck puts the power of cascade in your hands—cast a spell, then cast another spell for free! Wield all five colors of mana and watch your opponents scramble to deal with every flavor of aggression.

Chaos Reigns is the first deck in this series of reviews for one simple reason: it’s first alphabetically! A five color monstrosity, this deck makes the most of cascading spells. In the 60-card deck, there are only six brand new cards: one mythic, two rares, two uncommons and a common.

A quite note about the packaging, I really like how Wizards has amped up their packaging offers of late. The oddly shaped hexagonal box is great looking and the large window really shows off the plane well, but the inclusion of showing the legendary creature on a bend just makes me grimace. I know the card isn’t actually bent, but it just looks wrong! Inside the packaging is the planar deck, the actual deck, a planar die, a deck box, a strategy insert and learn to play guide.

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