Humble Flash Bundle benefits Extra Life – Includes SpeedRunners, King Arthur’s Gold, more

Since I literally just wrote about how much I’m enjoying SpeedRunners (I am still qutie enjoying it, by-the-by. Seriously, it’s an amazing feeling as you gain mastery over the levels)), I figured I should share the most recent Humble Flash Bundle. The main (pay-anything) bundle includes Potato Man Seeks the Troof, Starter Packs for Trove and Defiance, Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut, a 30-day subscription to Twitch Turbo, 30 days of Reddit Gold, and one week of access to the Landmark Beta. If you pay at least $6, you get nine classic You Don’t Know Jack titles, King Arthur’s Gold, SpeedRunners, and a Starter Pack for Rift. At $13 you get early access to Nom Nom Galaxy and three more keys for King Arthur’s Gold (which has a Very Positive rating over on Steam). Honestly, I’m of the opinion that SpeedRunners alone is worth the $6. I’ve not played any of the other games up on offer, but it’s still a lot of content for a low price. Plus, it all benefits the charity Extra Life, so you can feel good about yourself while getting more games. Also, I admit to being intrigued by Nom Nom Galaxy (which, alone, is normally $19.99 on Steam, although – again – I have no familiarly, although I now have a copy through this bundle) in which you, apparently, make soups and then defend your base from attackers. This particular bundle runs for about the next four days, so time is of the essence.

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21. October 2014 by Michael
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Game Impressions: SpeedRunners from DoubleDutch Games and tinyBUILD Games

I’ve had my eye on SpeedRunners from developer DoubleDutch Games and publisher tinyBUILD Games for a while now, but finally took the dive when the game went on sale for $3.39 over the weekend. Man, I’m glad I did. Honestly, while I was interested, I didn’t expect it to hold my attention but, just in a couple of days, I’ve played enough to justify my investment (and easily think that the game is worth it’s full price $9.99 price tag). Basically, in SpeedRunners the players are racing around a map in a manner not dissimilar from most of the ‘endless runners on the market’. However, instead of endless levels (although there are preset levels a la Bit.Trip Runner) the maps are set up in a circuit. There are a bunch of characters to choose from with some pretty great designs that include a dude in a shark suit, a cat and – if you know how to unlock it – a goat. At this point, the character do not have any differences beyond cosmetics (it is still an Early Access game, so I suppose that could happen in the future, or not), but – really – the ‘pure’ nature of the game is part of why I find it appealing. If you lose a game of SpeedRunners it was probably your own fault (although there are weapons like in Mario Kart, so sometimes it’s because of a good play by an opponent and sometimes it’s bad luck that your opponent got the right/wrong weapon at just the perfect moment). Still, I haven’t found the weapons to be overwhelming at this point (the golden hook is probably the most menacing, but they can all be devastating when used properly. Each race is played until one player has won three rounds and a player is eliminated from a round if they can no longer stay on the screen. Yep, the whole race takes place a single screen, which follows the leader. Sometimes the screen gets a little stretched out but, overall, the effect works well. Each game usually doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes, but it is satisfyingly tense the whole time because a single mistake can eliminate you from contention in a round. The tracks (there are eleven in the game right now, I believe, with more available through Steam Workshop) feature multiple routes, including the ability for switches that change a route, usually in favor of the first person through the door. Preventing two masterful players from going too long, eventually the field of view starts to shrink, increasing the likelihood of a player being pushed off the now-smaller screen. It also appears that multiplayer matchmaking is set up in ‘leagues’, so if you play well you will play better competition, but you won’t be thrown in against the wolves during your very first game. To this point, I have not found myself horrifically outmatched very often (maybe once or twice when I’ve come across a player that is clearly better than I am), which is nice. Even as an Early Access game, there’s a lot of content in SpeedRunners, and I’m definitely impressed with the state of the game. It’s an easy game to pick up and play a couple of rounds, but it is also a game that rewards mastery of its controls and of its tracks above all else. Pretty sweet.

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20. October 2014 by Michael
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Kickstarter: Southlands New Fantasy Options for Pathfinder RPG from Kobold Press Enters Its Final Day

It was the art of Southlands, a new RPG supplement compatible with Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG from publisher Kobold Press, that first caught my eye. Instead of the usual fantasy stuff, Southlands delves into Arabian Nights-style deserts and pulp adventures. Southlands is set in the same setting as Kobold Press’s own Midgard campaign setting. According to the Kickstarter campaign, Southlands is “a full-color book of ancient hieroglyphic magic, powerful genie lords, and monsters that would give Sindbad nightmares”. Beyond that, though, it looks like it could be a really neat book for those seeking inspiration for their RPG campaigns. For me, at least, just looking at the art shown on the Kickstarter campaign gives me ideas for adventures. That said, there is more to Southlands than just its art: Southlands contains a bestiary, information about locations like Per-Bastet, the City of Cats, and The Floating Village, as well as new player options like the tosculi insectfolk. I just like saying ‘insectfolk’. They sound quaint. They are likely not quaint. At any rate, through the Kickstarter, a PDF copy of the Southlands core book is $15 and a copy of the additionally-funded bestiary is $12 (both for $27, natch), with print copies and other rewards also available. If you’d like a feel for the contents of the book, there is also short excerpt available directly from Kobold Press. The Kickstarter Campaign only has hours left at this point, and has funded 15 additions to the core book, bonus PDFs and the aforementioned separate bestiary. For more information, you can check out the aforementioned Kickstarter, which ends tonight (October 17, 2014) at 11:00 p.m. Central Time. If you are coming to this late, I’d venture a guess that Kobold Press will be willing to sell you a copy in the future.

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17. October 2014 by Michael
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Fantasy Flight Games Announces the First Seven Ally and Villain Packs for Imperial Assault

This box art for the Star Wars Imperial Assault base game

This box art for the Star Wars Imperial Assault base game

Fantasy Flight Games has not even released their nearly-$100 behemoth Star Wars-meets Descent board game Imperial Assault yet, but they have already announced the first wave of expansions. The expansion characters announced for Imperial Assault, to expand on the 34 figures included with the base game, by FFG include:

Han Solo ($9.95)
Chewbacca ($9.95)
Rebel Troopers ($14.95)
Rebel Saboteurs ($12.95)
General Weiss ($19.95)
Royal Guard ($9.95)
IG-88 ($9.95)

From my review, it appears that the character miniatures themselves do not add any gameplay to Imperial Assault, instead serving as chrome-y replacements for tokens included in the base game. Each of the expansions includes includes a mission and each of the expansions includes one miniature except for the Troops and Saboteurs, each of which include three figures, as well as new cards to be used with Imperial Assault. From what I can tell from the official FFG write-up of the expansion figures, the sculpts look quite nice. FFG also did an overview of the gameplay in Imperial Assault, as well. For more information on Star Wars Imperial Assault from Fantasy Flight Games, you can always check out the official web page.

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14. October 2014 by Michael
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Kickstarter: Maelorum, Volume Two by Will Fincher – A game book with epic tabletop RPG tendencies

It’s always interesting to see what happens when someone decides to push an idea to its extremes. Such an example appears to be Maelorum, the 440 page game book by designer/illustrator Will Fincher. The original Maelorum was the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 that raised over $8,400 and a subsequent Kickstarter campaign to reprint  Maelorum Volume One that raised over $19,000. Now, Fincher has returned to Kickstarter to fund a sequel to Maelorum called, aptly-enough, Maelorum Volume Two. In case you are not familiar, gamebooks are  books where the player chooses the path that the story takes. Maelorum appears to take a direction similar to that of Tales of Arabian Nights where your characters abilities also affect how the story proceeds. At the start of reading Maelorum, you select a character and fill out a character sheet, much like you would with a traditional tabletop RPG. But instead of being at the whims of a gamemaster, you interact with the book.   According to the Kickstarter, “There are many endings you can get, even unlockable hidden achievements, so the replay and re-readability is very high.” The Maelorum Volume Two Kickstarter allows backers to get the PDF of Maelorum for $10, a soft cover copy for $25 and a hard cover copy of $45. Backers can add on copies of the original Maelorum, as well, for those that didn’t participate in the first Kickstarter campaign. There’s a lot more information over on the Maelorum Volume Two Kickstarter page, including an excerpt from the book. As of this writing, Maelorum Volume Two has raised over $13,000 of its $20,000 goal with 32 days remaining.

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14. October 2014 by Michael
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Kickstarter: The Ruined Empire – A system-neutral, Final Fantasy-inspired RPG setting

I wrote about Tenra Bansho Zero, the Japanese tabletop roleplaying game brought over by Andy Kitkowski, during its Kickstarter run two years ago, including interviewing Mr. Kitkowski himself. As part of that Kickstarter campaign, Anna Kreider wrote a campaign setting called The Ruined Empire that was planned to be fully developed as an official supplement/backer reward for Tenra Bansho Zero. However, it never saw the light of day and – eventually – Kitkowski released the text of the supplement under a Creative Commons license. Now, Kreider is revisiting  The Ruined Empire, launching a Kickstarter campaign to release an expanded version of the campaign setting that, according to the Kickstarter page, will include:

“An original campaign setting, inspired by Final Fantasy and common anime tropes, written with an eye toward social issues

Expanded commentary and campaign creation hooks

Conversion guides and system hacks for use in starting campaigns with non-Tenra systems”

So, what – exactly – is The Ruined Empire about, anyway? It is, as-mentioned, a system-neutral RPG setting set against the backdrop of two warring nations, and the three nations that lie between them (well, one of them was kind of ruined when the two nations fought the first time, but still). The major dichotomy in The Ruined Empire – from what I have read – is the pull between those two major empires: The Imperial Dynasty of Azumi, a nation built around machinery and technology, and Jahga Republic of Enlightened Peoples, a national built on magic and self-determination. There is tension in other parts of the world as well: Will melis and the Kugutsu in the Desecrated Lands rise up? What about the lower class in Horom, suffering under the Imperial rule, but powerless to stop it? Reading through the setting begs some interesting questions, and there do appear to be several different facets that a campaign could spark around. As mentioned, you can read the existing text of The Ruined Empire for free at the aforementioned link or check out the Kickstarter page, where the campaign has currently raised just over $2,500 (CAD), as I write this, of its $5,720 goal.

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13. October 2014 by Michael
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Cubicle 7 Details Victoriana: The Concert in Flames Supplement

TheConcertinFlamesCover4001Cubicle 7, publishers of Victoriana, have released additional details regarding The Concert in Flames, a supplement for the aforementioned Victoriana. Victoriana (currently in its 3rd Edition) is a steampunk and sorcery roleplaying game set in a historically questionable Victorian era. The game itself runs on the Heresy Engine, a dice pool-based system where 1’s and 6’s count as successes (there is actually a five-page preview of Victoriana available from Cubicle 7 if you’re interested in more about the system). The Concert in Flames supplement, according to an update from Cubicle 7, will detail all of Victoriana Europe as well as including a five-part adventure of “continent-spanning conspiracy.” According to the update from Cubicle 7, The Concert in Flames will be available for pre-order soon. Although there is no price listed in that article, the War Store has the MSRP for The Concert in Flames listed as $29.99.

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13. October 2014 by Michael
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Out of Dodge – A four-player live action freeform RPG from Jason Morningstar about desperate criminals on a car ride to nowhere

out-of-dodge-coverFirst, I love the idea of Out of Dodge from Fiasco/Durance designer Jason Morningstar as a sort of weird road trip activity. Technically, I suppose, you could play Out of Dodge not in a car seated in four chairs in your boring living room, but that would seem to ruin the point. First, apparently, the game assumes that you will be in a car formation anyway, so you may as well be pretending that you are desperate criminals while actually going somewhere. Out of Dodge is a one-sheet, free-form RPG where you and thre close friends play the roles of three thieves on the run trying to divide up eleven treasures. Basically, someone is getting screwed. That’s just math. Out of Dodge costs $4.00 and is available from DriveThruRPG. As for what you get for your $4, well, according to the listing the game includes “a 6 page PDF organized for single-sided printing. One sheet explains how to play. Four sheets represent the individual character sheets which will be cut in half and attached to letter-sized envelopes for each player. The final sheet is the list of Bag Notes for use during the climactic reveal (when the loot bag is examined).” Out of Dodge also includes a sheet to customize the triggers in the game to make it more replayable. Intended to be played in one-to-two hours, Out of Dodge certainly sounds like a better way to spend  a road trip than convincing your friends to listen to your early-oughts Ska mix CD. Which is awesome. And I don’t understand why they don’t get it.

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10. October 2014 by Michael
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BattleLore: Command will bring the BattleLore experience to iOS, Android and PC

I happen to be of the opinion that the Command & Colors system by designer Richard Borg is one of the neatest pieces of board game design anywhere. I have a ton of Memoir ’44 sets and also own a first edition copy of BattleLore, the fantasy-world take on that system where you use cards to activate different numbers of units across a board divided into three areas. Careful management of your cards is necessary because if too many of your units end up in a single part of the board you might end up with severely limited options to maneuver your troops. So it is to my great surprise and chagrin that I have somehow completely missed the announcement of BattleLore: Command for iOS, Android and PC that will bring the BattleLore: Second Edition experience to those platforms. Mercifully, from the trailrer above, BattleLore: Command appears to have quite a lot in common with its cardboard brethren (although I suppose that the trailer could just not show ways in which the game differs). Although there is no announced release date yet, apparently BattleLore: Command will retail for $9.95 and will, according to Fantasy Flight Games, include:

“All the army units and lore powers included in BattleLore Second Edition
A single-player campaign composed of multiple missions, each on a different battlefield
Multiplayer functionality allowing two players using the same wifi network to compete
A 360 degree view enabling players to see the battlefield from any vantage”

Man, add asynchronous multiplayer and I can’t imagine what else I could ask for. All told, it looks like it has some serious promise. I’m certainly keeping on eye on BattleLore: Command and I’ll let you know once there is a release date. In the meantime, Fantasy Flight Games has posted a preview of several of the units of BattleLore to tide you over.

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10. October 2014 by Michael
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Castaway Paradise released by Stolen Couch – Think Animal Crossing on iOS

I’ve been jazzed about Castaway Paradise from developers Stolen Couch for quite a while (in fact, I wrote an article about it more than two years ago when it was called The Village). Although it has been out in other territories for a little bit, it was finally released for iOS today (according to feedback from Stolen Couch, they would like to do an Android version, but there are no plans. It looks like PC and Mac may be a possibility down the line, though. Also, the feedback forum built into the game is great and Stolen Couch appear to be answering customer suggestions in real time). In any case, Castaway Paradise is, basically, Animal Crossing for your i-device right down the graphical style. This is not, mind you, a complaint.   I’ve downloaded the game (it’s free on iTunes) and so far I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Like many free-to-play games, Castaway Paradise has two currencies: Gems and Pearls. There are lots of microtransactions for sale, including several character customization option, furniture, tiles and wallpapers. Given that I haven’t played the game very long yet, I haven’t gotten a good sense for how necessary microtransactions are to get the most out of the game. What I have noted is that my watering can has twenty uses before it needs time to refill and that things like building and planting crops take real-world time unless you pay to speed them up. Still, I can be patient so I have no reason right now to perceive the times as unfair (I’ve actually gotten several speed ups and gems just from doing some quests in the game). As you level up you gain access to more features and customization options, as well. It certainly seems like the Animal Crossing formula would work well in mobile format, so I’m definitely looking to getting more into the game over the coming days.

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09. October 2014 by Michael
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