Category Archives: Gamer Issues

Our Beloved Taskmaster Wonders If We’re In A “Golden Age” Of Games

IMG_2722Every month, sometimes twice a month, my local game shop, Rivendell Books and Games, puts on a Saturday Board Game Nite. Admission is free, and gamers are encouraged to bring and play whatever manner of game tickles their fancy. We also have a selection of stored owned games on-hand too. Couples come in to play, as do entire families and we always have a healthy and diverse turn out for every event. We encourage people to mingle and to try out games that they may not have otherwise bought or played for themselves.

So this lend me to thinking….are we now in the Golden Age of Board Games? Are we in a gaming Renaissance?

WP_20141224_005In today’s world, with our video game culture, the concept of sitting around a table rolling dice and moving pieces seems archaic. But a large and growing board-game subculture is not only thriving, but may actually be growing so much that it may not be a subculture any longer!

WP_20150126_003Since the explosive introduction of Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne (and other Euro-Games) some years ago, a rapidly expanding marketplace has given rise to a new wave of publishers and designers, most of which have brought a new sense of creativity and innovation.

Moving beyond the old mass-market favorites of the past, this new community of independent designers and publishers has been producing exciting and innovative games at a staggering pace. Games are better than in the past and designers are turning out products with thought-provoking mechanics and breathtaking artwork as fast as their customers can buy them up.

WP_20150220_007The internet has been a key factor in the growth of tabletop gaming. Blogs, social networks and online videos have all contributed to creating word-of-mouth buzz for the board game boon. Smartphone, tablet, and computer apps have given new and old players an inexpensive way to try digital versions of board games before buying physical copies. Online retailers, specialty shops, and game cafes have all made games more easily available than in the past, allowing gamers to try out games with friends before they buy.

So, all in all, it’s a great time to be a board gamer….if we’re not in the Golden Age, we must be damn close!

 

-Steve R.

Mental Health: Can we be serious for a moment?

This may sound a little weird…

Talking mental health depressionI know we’re a gaming company and we try and have a lot of fun in our blog, but today I want to talk openly about something serious, mental health. After I watched Wil Wheaton’s video about his anxiety and depression on projectUROK.org, a website aimed a little (ok, a lot) below my age range, it really echoed my own experience. This subject should really be openly talked about in our gaming community, because let’s face it, we as gamers tend to be outcasts and more often than not, have some social anxiety issues. Not everyone, by any means, but if the national average of folks with anxiety disorders is two out of three, I would guess the ratio is probably higher among those of us in the traditional “nerd” space, especially those of us who grew up in the time before nerd culture was part of pop culture.

Mental Heath and the Gamer.

The object of this post is to talk openly about this issue, not to victimize anyone, seek excuses  or invoke pity. I feel that actually sharing this personally on video will be more effective than typing out a small novel so I will upload the following…

 

Please share your story.

 

-Steve P.

 

  • Sign up for our Newsletter




 

The Future of The Local Gaming Store Hang-out?

There’s a lot of talk about the impact of on-line retailers and the “death” of the local gaming store. There are even some closed minded curmudgeons (mind you I’m a curmudgeon myself so this is not light criticism) who think board and card games are on their way out due to the electronic alternatives.  I’d have to be a fool not to recognized that the terrain is changing, or to not see that we’re in a transitional period. It’s a fact, in this day and age we have more stuff to fill up our spare time than any other time in history. Just look at my Netflix queue, my unpainted miniatures, underplayed games and unfinished game concepts if you need proof.

The Fate of the Local Gaming Store

The Uncommons NYCThe fact is, as with all retailers in the age of Amazon, that the local gaming store needs to adapt. 20 years ago there were only a handful of places you could get obscure games,  specialized imports or rare small print run indie Human Occupied LandfillRPGs (anyone remember HoL?) So today’s game store owners need to adapt to compete against the discounted prices and vast inventory of the online retailers, The way most have done so is to create a community of gamers and given them a place to meet and play together. I came across one such place during my travels in New York City wandering around Manhattan. The place is called buy or rent gamesThe Uncommons“, a coffee shop and local game store where you can buy or rent games to play with friends and strangers. It was doing a fair amount of business for a 4th of July Saturday  afternoon. The selection of games to rent was impressive, the ones to buy admirable (about half the shelf space of the rental games), but I’m sure they would bring in any thing you wanted special order. It had the feeling of a mini-convention, where people came to try new games of meet new players.

The Uncommons NYC

There is many local gaming stores that have done similar things, putting large war-gaming tables with exquisite model terrain to bring in the war-gamer crowd.

We’ve based our company out of shared space with Rivendell Books & Games in Rehoboth, MA where the owner has a open gaming nights twice a month as well as the usual Friday Night Magic and Star Realms tournaments.

Do you have a favorite gaming space or combo-gaming and social outlet? Please comment and let us know. Also please like and share our posts to really help getting the conversation going!

-Mr. P

Role Playing Games: Our Beloved Taskmaster Looks For Advice.

Privet, moi druz’yaigos…

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a missive detailing how I lamented not having enough time to play all the games I owned, wished to own, or didn’t own but wanted to play anyway (did you follow all that)!

That ol’ Role Playing Game Itch.

I also stated that I had no idea when I’d have time to ever play in a good old fashion RPG campaign again. Lately that itch has begun in earnest, like a good ole’ summer case of poison oak!

This time however, I have decided to scratch that itch, and actually run some RPG sessions this summer. BUT…..I now have another problem:

What system do I run?

Role Playing GameDo I bring out the tried and true Pathfinder books? After all, this is a system almost all RPG-ers are now familiar with. Plenty of playing options are available and I am sure I can get people to play with me.
(Count me in if you go with a PF campaign! -Mr. P.)

Do I go with the new and try out the new D&D 5 ruleset? But that would take a lot more time, having to learn a whole new ruleset. And then I would have to find people also willing to try a new game.

D&D Role playing Game

Old school role playing gameOr do I go with the good old AD&D. Going old school and running some classic module adventures. Try to recapture that magic of youth when Greyhawk was young and the adventures seems boundless!

Knowing me, I’ll procrastinate so much that my plan to run a summer campaign will turn into a fall campaign!

Oh well….(now where did I put those old M.E.R.P. books?!?!?!)

Middle Earth Role Playing Game

Steve R

 

  • Follow Us




Game Master Depression, is it a real thing?

Oger fills me with Game Master “Dread”

Oger, with his prized possession.
Oger, with his prized possession.
Oger the Mascot
I wanna promotion, this Mascot business is for the crows!

Our mascot here around the office Oger the Dwarf  has a huge dwarf-crush on Wil Wheaton and watches “TableTop” religiously. When he told me about the latest episodes featuring the horror-based storytelling game “Dread”, which uses a Jenga® tower instead of dice, my curiosity was peaked. Since the game is out of print, I went to Drive-Thru RPG to see if they had it, which they did as a $3 100-page PDF.

After watching the 2 TableTop episodes and looking over the rules I had to try my hand as a Game Master (or “Host”) for Dread. The basic concept is that instead of rolling dice the players pull a block from the tower when they have to use a skill that is not known to their character, or when they are doing something under duress. If the tower tumbles, the character making the pull is out of the game. I tried it last weekend and the experience wasn’t quite what I hoped for. That was my fault entirely, I broke 2 of the basic rules of Dread, maintain the atmosphere and maintain the suspense. My gaming group is supposed to meet monthly, but that has been difficult lately so we tried to take advantage of getting together for my goddaughter’s 15th birthday (who is in the group). Though a really cool game mechanic and idea, it was a case of too many people, no one was really in a “horror story” mood and a group of players that were almost completely made up of highly skilled Jenga® players. The tower never toppled and things just didn’t work out. On the ride home my wife congratulated me on a good game, but I didn’t feel it was worthy of any accolades.

 

Post Game Master Depression

Do other Game Masters walk away from a session feeling disappointed?  I’m sure that anyone taking on the responsibility of running a RPG has off nights, or a game that just didn’t fit their group. In the above  example, I know I shouldn’t beat myself up, people had fun, the players reacted to the story pretty much the way

Game Master why
Wha-wha, “I put too much work into my game and no one appreciates it”. Lighten up, humie!

I wanted. So why does it take the wind out of my sails, and not just in this case, but most gaming sessions? Part of it’s my problem, I’m known as a “plumber”, as in I “plumb the depths” of the worlds I create. They have rich, long histories and highly detailed factions with elaborate political maneuvering going on in the background, that players only scratch the surface of. When our group can’t meet regularly all those rich details get forgotten and lost. When there’s a time constraint and I have to rush 6 hours worth of play into 4, it’s those details that get cut, or worse, completely forgotten by me on the spot.

 

Is There A Curse To Being Creative?

It’s a mind frame I’ve seen with my artistic friends, and I’ve experienced myself on occasion. You start to draw, paint, sculpt with a mental image of what you want the thing to be, and as you go on you can’t reproduce that vision in your head. When you’re finished,

RPG Games
Oh boy, you’re really taking this kinda far, this is only a game we’re talking about, right?

what you created bears little resemblance to what you envisioned, which is disappointing. Here’s’ the kicker, no one else saw what you did in your head. To them this creation is wonderful, it’s something they could never do; however, in your eyes it’s not quite what you had envisioned. If a session does do play out just as I wanted those experiences that can’t be replicated; a mix of variables ranging from my mood, the players energy, the environment, the perfect amount of libation imbibed and maybe something unquantifiable. While I may be a perfectionist, I hope I’m not being too precious.

 

Oger if you’ll shut your ale-hole and stop with the side comments, I’ll see about getting you promoted from “Mascot” to “Intern”.

 

Please  share your stories of games gone right and session gone horribly, horribly wrong in the comments below and thanks for reading this.

 

Steve P.

Tabletop Games: How many are “too” many?

Olá meus amigos…

So this past weekend I participated in another great Game Nite event at the best gaming establishment in the world…Rivendell Books and Games! We had a great time with great people and there was great selection of games on hand.

I myself ended up playing two games I had never played before; a classic Aliens game from “waaaaaay” back in 1989, a newer game called Gravwell (thanks Mike P. for bringing these in!), and we started the night with a Star Realms Tournament. I had a blast…as did all the attendees, playing whatever games they had going on!

Then, as the night was drawing to a close, I looked over at the shelf I have at our play area….and saw all the tabletop games we didn’t get to!

Great board and card games

There was my D&D Attack Wing…un-played since the first week I acquired it!

Next to that was my Pathfinder Card Game…with most of its expansions still encased in their original cellophane wrapping!

Memoir 44 was there, unused since that first initial month when we played it weekly!

Star Wars Armada and it expansions sat there too, waiting to be played for the first time!

And that’s just some of the games I keep at the store, never mind the ones I have at home!

Who knows when I’ll get to play in an RPG campaign again!

So, here I type and lament that I am surrounded by all these wonderful games and I just can’t play them all!

I am really not complaining too loudly though….I do get to play something (or multiple somethings) every week and on multiple nights.

It’s just that sometimes it feels like there are too many tabletop games and not enough time!

 

Until next time….always be playing!

Steve R

 

(Feature image from http://housekeeping.about.com/u/sty/cleaning101/Before-And-After-Cleaning-And-Organizing-Projects/Game-Closet-Makeover.htm)

Another Missive From Our Beloved Taskmaster

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!

Another week, another article!

And here I sit; scratching my “follicle-ly” challenged pointy head as I try to think of something to say that will be interesting and newsworthy to you all!

Y’know, the two biggest problems with writing these weekly “state-of-the-business” missives is that:
A. It is hard to write about something that has yet to be released to the general public…and…
B. I have no idea if my words are reaching anyone!

Bored Cat is BoredI mean I am not trying to go for some deep world-changing existential prose here. I am not writing the next War and Peace. I am just trying to keep you all informed on the state of MR20….and this week I hit a roadblock!

I guess could tease out that we do have an “event” coming up in June!

Or that we may be an actual legal company in the very near future!

And that it seems our Facebook page is finally gaining some traction…

Or that, so far, most of the folks who have playtested our first game have actually liked it enough to the point that they even want to playtest it again!

And that having Mr. P at my beck and call is as fun as it seems it is!
(I live to serve, Mr. R.)

Or that all of us here at MR20 are having a blast developing our games, despite all the work that has been and is yet to be done!

Oh well…stupid roadblock…maybe I will just go and re-write War and Peace!

Until next time….stay frosty!

Steve R

The Benefits of Playing Card Games For Kids

Is There Still a Place for Board & Card Games For Kids in the Modern Home?

The Wall Street Journal On-line posted a video that covered the benefits of teaching your kids to play card games at a young age; and while they focus on traditional card games, I couldn’t agree more.

In recent years card games have fallen out of favor with the modern family as our personal devices pull us away from the social interaction that a lower tech diversion can provide. When I was a kid I have great memories of playing Rook and Miles Bourne with my family on camping trips and New Year’s Eve, and clearly as an inspiring game designer I feel strongly that card and board games have a place in the home. I also agree that such games help develop social and life skills that a developing child will find incredibly valuable, including how to win and lose gracefully, how to read people and how to think strategically,

The first game we are developing is something that definitely could be a family game and we will have more details about it as we get closer to a release date. It has math, symbol recognition, tactics and long term strategy. But in game you could find to play with your family, either on-line or at your local gaming store there’s Munchkin, Love Letters, the Adventure Time card game, or the old stand by of Uno. For those with older teenagers there’s King of Tokyo, Settlers of Catan and many more.

There are a lot of options available to you as you set out to plan a family game night, the challenge is keeping it happening so it has a chance to become a tradition in your home.

 

Play-test night at Rivendell Books & Games

Both Card Games Get Tested

Last night (4/1/15) we met in Rivendell’s Game room to test both card games we are developing. “Master of Spies” and “Project: Lightning Sword”

The classic 1st ed D&D image watches us no matter what we play.
The classic 1st ed D&D image watches us no matter what we play.
Mike and Rob run the demo of P:LS to get Mike's feedback on the description of the game.
Mike and Rob run the demo of P:LS to get Mike’s feedback on the description of the game.
Rob & Mike play-testing Project: Lightning Sword (working title).
Rob & Mike play-testing Project: Lightning Sword (working title).
Neil, Steve R. and Steve P. (taking the picture) play-test Master of Spies.
Neil, Steve R. and Steve P. (taking the picture) play-test Master of Spies.
The P:LS demo test starts to heat up.
The P:LS demo test starts to heat up.
Our feedback form that e use to collect comment and input from our volunteer ply0testers.
Our feedback form that we use to collect comment and input from our volunteer play-testers.

 

If you enjoy board games, card games, role-playing games or interesting pop culture collectables be sure to visit:

Rivendell Books & Games in Rehoboth
224 Winthrop St (Rt 44) Rehoboth, Massachusetts