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Tag: Dungeons & Dragons (page 2 of 4)

Gaming with Cthulhu

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an American author who created an entire subgenre of horror fiction that has become a rich source of inspiration for authors, illustrators, cartoonists, designers, and of course, gamers. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos seems to get more and more popular every year, despite his lack of success during his own lifetime and his somewhat archaic writing style.

Cthulhu is one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones, enormous and cosmically powerful beings who once ruled over the earth in the distant past and, with the help of ancient texts and insane cultists, plan to do so again. Cthulhu sleeps in the dread city of R’yeh, sunk deep somewhere beneath the Pacific ocean. One day, it is said, Cthulhu’s cosmic plan will come to fruition and his city will rise again, waking him from his age-long slumber… But Cthulhu is just one character from Lovecraft’s astonishingly imaginative oeuvre. Bizarre cities lie in the frozen Antarctic, watched over by the vast and terrible Shoggoths … inbred villagers breed with fish-people in the rotting town of Innsmouth … the pages of the dread Necronomicon lure unwary researchers on to the most horrific of revelations… and all manner of horrors lurk in the mist-shrouded and haunted woods of New England …

One of the reasons why Lovecraft’s work continues to be so popular is that it evades definition. The power of his stories came no so much from what his characters saw, but what they did not – the otherworldly, terrible, monstrously powerful things that lurked at the edge of sanity. He cleverly relied on the reader’s imagination to create terrors beyond the boundaries of his written words. That’s why it is so difficult to create a game that really captures the unique flavour of his fiction – the more you try to define it or illustrate it, the more it loses its power. The characters in Lovecraft’s stories often literally go insane when confronted by the ultimate secrets they investigate. All of these games take interesting approaches trying to capture that unique atmosphere, but it could be argued that none completely succeed—but since Lovecraft’s work means so many things to so many people, that doesn’t matter in the least.

The grand-daddy of Lovecraftian gaming is the roleplaying game Call of Cthulhu, first released in 1981 by Chaosium and now in its 6th edition. As in many of Lovecraft’s stories, the emphasis in this game was on investigation and exploration, with the ever-present threat of insanity looming over your investigator character. Combat was a very occasional and usually deadly occurrence. A long line of supplements explored the Mythos in settings ranging from Victorian London to the 23rd century.

Without a doubt, the most well-known and most-played of boardgames based in the worlds of Lovecraft is Arkham Horror and its many expansions. The original game, by Richard Launius, was published in 1987 by Chaosium, but in 2005 Fantasy Flight Games released a completely revamped version that took the gaming world by storm and continues to be one of their most popular games. Set in Lovecraft’s fictional city of Arkham, players control1920s characters who co-operate to roam the city gathering items, skills and spells in an attempt to close a series of otherworldy Gates that are releasing a tide of horrific creatures. Eventually, if they fail to stop the inexorable progress of the Doom Track, a Great Old One (GOO) itself may be released, which the players have a (very small) chance of defeating.

Arkham Horror has been criticised for not really capturing the unique atmosphere of Lovecraft,due to its emphasis on combat, and the fact that, unlike in the stories, it is even vaguely possible to defeat a GOO in combat. But the fact remains it is a vastly entertaining game that is bursting with theme. Sure, it’s incredibly random and sometimes ridiculously difficult, but it really is one of the closest experiences to a role-playing game session that a boardgame can provide. The huge amount of supplemental material makes it endlessly different and engaging, and it can also be played solo.

FFG has continued to support Arkham Horror with a steady stream of expansion sets – so many in fact, that it would be difficult to find a table big enough to play them all at once! The ‘big box’ expansions – Kingsport Horror, Dunwich Horror, and Innsmouth Horror – bring extra boards for those cities so the players can travel to these unique locations, lots of new components, and quite a few extra rules as well. ‘Small box’ card-based expansions – Curse of the Dark Pharoah, The King In Yellow, Black Goat of the Woods, and the upcoming Lurker at the Threshold – have brought more cards, characters and special rules into the game. You can even buy custom dice!

With the huge amount of Lovecraftian mythos content out there, it was the perfect subject for a collectible card game. The first of these was a 1996 game called Mythos – again by Chaosium, and now out of print. The card game of choice now is the Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game (LCG) by – you guessed it – Fantasy Flight Games. Originally a collectible card game, FFG changed this to its ‘Living Card Game’ format, taking the blind buying out of the experience (and changing the card borders from black to white). With a deck made of cards from various factions, players engage in battles using their card’s Terror, Combat, Arcane, and Investigation ratings in order to fulfill Story cards. Monthly expansions—’Asylum Packs’—for this excellent game are now being released by FFG.

Moving on from FFG, a recent boardgame that draws heavily on the Mythos is Witch of Salem by Mayfair Games. This is based on a series of books by Wolfgang Hohlbein which are derived from Lovecraft’s work. There are some similarities with Arkham Horror – co-operative investigators in Arkham, gathering objects, closing portals – but the game is in a far simpler style, for a more ‘game-like’ and less roleplaying experience. The artwork is absolutely stunning, especially the board, and the game is extremely challenging, though relatively easy to learn.

From Twilight Creations, Inc., the makers of the seemingly endless Zombies!!! series, comes Innsmouth Escape. It’s certainly not in the same league artistically as the previously mentioned games, but you do get one hundred Deep One miniatures! A single human player desperately tries to escape from the doomed seaside town of Innsmouth (from the Lovecraft story The Shadow Over Innsmouth), while being pursued by horrible fish-people. It’s a fast-playing, light game that fans of Zombies!!! will especially enjoy.

But why stop there? There are plenty of other gaming experiences to be had in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Try Munchkin Cthulhu (in Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin series), Cthulhu 500 (which somehow manages to mix car racing and Cthulhu), Do You Worship Cthulhu? (a re-theme of the party game Werewolf), Cthulhu Rising, Cthulhu Mash …

There’s no sign of the Cthulhu phenomenon ending anytime soon. But perhaps that’s all part of the cosmic plan …?

For more information about the games mentioned in this article, visit the publisher game sites, including Chaosium at http://www.chaosium.com and Fantasy Flight Games at http://www.fantasyflightgames.com. You can also find a comprehensive rules summary and reference sheets for Arkham Horror, Call of Cthulhu Card Game and Witch of Salem at http://www.headlesshollow.com/freebies_games.html.

by Universal Head

Universal Head (www.universalhead.com), has been designing graphics from the most corporate to the most creative for more than twenty years. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, most notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent a year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for the computer game ‘The Omega Stone’. In between he’s designed everything from large corporate websites, to postage stamps, to a mobile phone interface. His personal site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

Board Games weekly giveaway! (Entries close 11/04/2010) CLOSED

Searching for a new board games in 2010? Would winning over $200 worth of FREE board games help?!?!

Simply enter your response (Right side of the Games Paradise Blog), and the weekly winner receives a Games Bundle worth over $200 as pictured below!
Competition Question

In 100 words or less, Name your funniest gaming “outburst” experience form you or another player.

The winner will be chosen by Games Paradise Australia on relevance, use of humour, style and content on April 5th 2010 and contacted by email by a Games Paradise Australia representative. This is a game of skill. Chance plays no part in determining the winner.

Entries close 11th April, 11:59pm 2010!

Winner Announced 12th April 2010!
Board Games Pack up for Grabs this Week

Winner – Ming Dao Ting.

The game was THINGS and the topic was “Things that will get you arrested”. One of the submissions was “Jaywalking naked while committing fraud”. Everyone paused, then laughed so hard we ended up crying. Funniest still when we realised the writer was my quiet introverted wife!

An Easter bunny to die for

Now that Easter is fast approaching, our thoughts traditionally turn to the most enduring symbol of Easter in the western world: The Easter Bunny. But while the Easter Bunny holds a special place in our hearts as the bringer of peace, goodwill and chocolate eggs, there are other bunnies out there that are hell bent on destruction.

Origins of Bellinger’s Killer Bunnies

Killer Bunnies is a whirlwind, action-filled card game where players set out to destroy as many of their opponents’ Bunnies as possible before they are themselves done-in.  Simultaneously chaotic, nasty, silly, vengeful and hilarious, Killer Bunnies and its many variations has a long, interesting history.

Originally designed as a board game in Jersey, NY in 1989, Killer Bunnies was conceived by the highly imaginative and artistic Jeffrey Neil Bellinger – maths teacher and former US Navy veteran. A seasoned traveller, confirmed people watcher and avid science fiction and pop culture fan, Bellinger filled his game with many hidden messages, including nods to his supportive friends and family.

Transformed into a satirical and fun card game in San Diego in 2000, Bellinger’s first run of 52 decks were meticulously hand cut and packaged as the AA series under the company name Sarsen’s Stuff. The first 10 decks ever made were unfortunately lost in transit, but decks 11 – 50 were kindly bought by Bellinger’s close knit supporters, and the game soon developed a loyal following of fans.

Each deck ever made by Sarsen’s Stuff was individually numbered, through to the BB, CC and Delta decks of 2001 – 2002. Every deck owner that registered their number during that time was made part of the enduring Bunny family at Killer Bunnies.

Bellinger and Playroom Entertainment

Since signing a licensing deal with Playroom Entertainment and creating the Epsilon Series, Bellinger and his game have come full circle with the launch of board game Killer Bunnies and the Journey to Jupiter. In whatever incarnation, Killer Bunnies continues to capture the imagination of eager gamers, hungry for a wacky, deadly and chocolate-free experience.

“We are offering 15% of this great bundle deal”

Click on the ad for this great deal

1 x Pink Booster

1 x Green Booster

1 x Violet Booster

1 x Red Booster Deck

1 x Orange Booster Deck

1 x Twilight white Booster

1 x Wacky Khaki Booster Deck

1 x Killer Bunnies Starter Deck

1 x Stainless Steel Booster Deck

1 x Ominous Onyx Booster Deck


Board Games weekly giveaway! (Entries close 04/04/2010) CLOSED

Searching for a new board games in 2010? Would winning over $200 worth of FREE board games help?!?!

Simply enter your response (Right side of the Games Paradise Blog), and the weekly winner receives a Games Bundle worth over $200 as pictured below!
Competition Question

In 100 words or less, Name your favorite place in the world of monopoly and why?

The winner will be chosen by Games Paradise Australia on relevance, use of humour, style and content on April 5th 2010 and contacted by email by a Games Paradise Australia representative. This is a game of skill. Chance plays no part in determining the winner.

Entries close 4th April, 11:59pm 2010!

Winner Announced 5th April 2010!
Board Games Pack up for Grabs this Week

This weeks winner – Shane ploenges with Mixie Mytosis

Name : Mixie Mytosis
Abilities: Stare of Doom: Beady red eyes stare forth at you with an icy glaze, causing you flee.

Carrot of Destiny: Mixie raises her weapon “the golden carrot of destiny” which causes 2d4 rays of Beta carrotine radiant damage



Meet the Meeples

Massachusetts, USA seems to be a hotbed of gaming innovation, so it’s no surprise that it was in this state that Alison Hansel used a term that would change gaming jargon forever. “Meeple” was first mentioned by Hansel online in November 2000. Short for “my people”, Hansel used the term to describe the anthropomorphic gaming pieces or “followers” used in the Eurogame Carcassonne.  Meeple was an instant hit, and it’s now commonly used to describe any pawn, bit or figure in a game, which might be a bit of a stretch, as it was originally meant to just describe the game bits that represented humans.

What about the Animeeples peoples?

Since 2000, many more Meeple related terms have cropped up – like Animeeples. This term refers to the animal shaped bits in games such as Agricola, a farming Eurogame that comes with over 300 wooden components. Meeples and Animeeples have now been joined by a wide range of other Meepleish terms, such as Cowboyeeples, Veggiemeeples, Foodmeeples, and even Resourceeples!

Meeple purists rule.

Many gamers are very particular when it comes to the quality of their Meeples and game bits, demanding they be constructed of materials such as wood or clay rather than plastic or cardboard. Many are so precious about this, that they won’t buy games unless the components are top quality. Some very creative gamers even opt to pimp their game bits themselves, or buy sets of pimped bits, to personalise their game components with something a little more unique.

Pimp your bits.

If some of you want a tad more realism or pizzazz in your games, why not look into pimping your board game pieces? Carved from wood or polymer clay, like Sculpey – which can be baked in your home oven – your pimped Meeples can be painted, polished then re-integrated back into your original game. Pimped Meeples can give your game a very special stamp of you-ness. There are even tutorials online if you need some tips. A quick search of Google images turns up some great examples so check them out, and if you’ve already created a Meeple, Animeeple or Anytypeofmeeple masterpiece, why not share it with us? I’d love to see them.

An Introduction to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

The roleplaying game Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) has had a long and interesting history since its first release in 1986. But if you’ve only just become aware of the fact that you can roleplay in Games Workshop’s venerable Warhammer world, now’s the perfect time to get started, because Fantasy Flight Games recently released a brand new third edition.

First, a little history. The first version of WFRP was a thick, everything-in-one hardcover book, and immediately the game set itself apart from other RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons with two innovations.  The first was the career system. Instead of progressing through ‘levels’, WFRP characters could move through a series of careers that ran the gamut from lowly grunts like rat-catchers and charlatans to respected members of society like nobles and scholars. Careers were just the first sign of a strong emphasis on roleplaying and storytelling instead of ‘dungeon-bashing’. The second innovation was a combat system surprising in its lethality. Unlike D&D, for example, where you could bash away at a powerful character for ages without significantly wearing down its stock of hit points, WFRP characters were always at the mercy of a few lucky arrow shots or well-placed blows; and a gruesomely detailed critical hit system made combat damage far more realistic and visceral. It was indeed, as advertised, A Grim World of Perilous Adventure!

(Personally, I’ll never forget our very first game, when one of the players confidently picked a fight in a bar and ended up being carried out with a broken leg and various other wounds which led to a protracted period of healing as they journeyed down river. But then again, the other guy ended up in the river …)

WFRP was a great success, not least because the first adventure campaign for the game, The Enemy Within, is still regarded as one of the best in RPG history.  The first four episodes—Mistaken Identity, Shadows Over Bogenhafen, Death on the Reik, and The Power Behind the Throne—established all the classic elements of WFRP gaming; the grim and gritty atmosphere, the secret Chaos cults among the powerful, the quirky English sense of black humour and bad puns, and a pageant of interesting and memorable characters. Unfortunately, the quality of the last two episodes, Something Rotten in Kislev and Empire in Flames, didn’t live up to this high water mark, and some would say that WFRP fans are still awaiting adventure material to match the incredible inventiveness of those first releases.

After a strange D&D-like adventure series, the Doomstones campaign, WFRP went out of print and entered the first of several ‘hibernation periods’. Fans kept the game alive—most notably in the Strike to Stun newsletter—but some years passed before finally, in 1995, a small English company called Hogshead Publishing gained the rights to publish WFRP material. The original rulebook was reprinted, and along with other reprints came some excellent new books, especially material centred around the Venice-like city of Marienburg. In 2001 their most ambitious release came with the long awaited magic supplement Realms of Sorcery (this author had the honour of designing the cover around the Ralph Horsley illustration), and later a Dwarven sourcebook, but the game was once again to slide back out of print when Hogshead gave up the licence for various reasons in 2002.

After another long break, the GW division Black Industries, in collaboration with Green Ronin, re-released WFRP in a brand new edition in 2005. The combat system was changed somewhat to add more options and variety, character characteristics were modified a bit, but the game was essentially the same. A veritable tide of WFRP material followed, in both soft- and hardback form; almost 25 books and supplements, including the Paths of the Damned and The Thousand Thrones campaigns, and many interesting sourcebooks covering places in the Old World that players had never seen in detail before, like Tilea, The Border Princes, and Karak Azghal.

In 2009, everything changed again. WFRP moved to Fantasy Flight Games, and ater selling some of the old v2 material and releasing a Character Compendium, FFG suddenly announced a totally new version of WFRP that would see the most changes to the game since it was first released. It was a controversial announcement, especially among older players; when it became clear that the new system relied on dice pools and printed components there were cries of “boardgame!” But now that the game has been out for a while and the dust has settled, old players seem to have accepted the changes and realised that the focus is still on the storytelling, and the unique atmosphere of the Old World.

The new version is quite a different beast from its predecessors. In keeping with FFG’s reputation for graphic quality, it looks stunning, and instead of using tables of information in a hardcover book, most of the gaming information is presented in the form of full colour cards which players can acquire as their characters progress, all in a big box. The career system is still there, and combat is still lethal, but there are many more options in combat, and much more interpretation and flexibility due to a ‘dice pool’ system. This means that instead of calculating a particular chance to achieve some action and rolling a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ result, players roll a pool of different dice that represent, for example, the relevant characteristic, the level of challenge, and the vagaries of fortune, and then interpret the results depending on the final number of success or fail icons, and other results like ‘boons’ and ‘banes’. So not only can you see if your action succeeded or failed, but by how much, what factors were responsible, and what other quirks of fate affected the outcome. It all adds up to a greater emphasis on creativity and storytelling, and after you quickly get used to the system, you’ll find your games flowing faster than ever before.

So far the core game and an Adventurer’s Toolkit has been released, and coming soon is a Game Master’s Toolkit. The most hotly anticipated release however is a new adventure boxed set, The Gathering Storm. It remains to be seen whether FFG can live up to the high hopes and expectations of players worldwide and release a WFRP campaign that recalls the glory days of The Enemy Within

For more information about WFRP mentioned in this article, visit Fantasy Flight Games at http://www.fantasyflightgames.com. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for the game at http://www.headlesshollow.com/freebies_games.html#wfrp3.

by Universal Head

Universal Head (www.universalhead.com), has been designing graphics from the most corporate to the most creative for more than twenty years. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, most notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent a year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for the computer game ‘The Omega Stone’. In between he’s designed everything from large corporate websites, to postage stamps, to a mobile phone interface. His personal site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop – A Match Made in Gaming Heaven

Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) is probably the premier boardgame company in the world, and they’re having a huge impact in the roleplaying game industry as well. One of the reasons for that success is their decision to base many of their exciting, thematic boardgames on established licences from video games (Doom, World of Warcraft) and television (Battlestar Galactica). But possibly their biggest coup was the licence from Games Workshop (GW) to not only re-release some of GW’s old boardgame designs with new components (and often new mechanics), but to create brand new games that explore the incredibly successful universes of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Let’s have a closer look at some of these great games…

Re-Released Games

Fury of Dracula (1987) was the first of the vintage GW boardgames to be revamped (groan!) and re-released by FFG, in 2006. It was an excellent choice, because there are many gamers (this author among them) who consider the original game to be one of GW’s best. This is a game dripping with theme, and one of the precursors of the current wave of ‘co-operative’ games, since a group of players must work together to explore Victorian Europe to discover and destroy the Prince of Darkness himself, Dracula. One player is Dracula, and must stay one step ahead of the others, all the while laying traps and red herrings to damage the adventurers and put them off his trail. The new FFG version brought some effective innovations to the game system; most notably, Dracula now keeps track of his recent locations with a set of cards played face-down on a track, and players can pick up his trail by stumbling upon one of these locations. It can also now be played with 2-5 players, instead of the original 2-4. Anyone who is a fan of Dracula—especially the Bram Stoker original—will love this richly atmospheric game.

Warrior Knights was the next game to get the FFG treatment, but once again the company didn’t just re-release an old favourite, but brought it up to the expectations of modern boardgamers. The 1985 original was a deep, strategic game of kingdom building for 2-6 players with an interesting Assembly phase where players voted on various motions; leading to a lot of alliance building and breaking. The 2006 remake is in some ways a brand new game, but manages to retain the unique flavour of the original. It’s highly recommended for players looking for something with a bit more complexity that explores both political and military avenues to achieving ultimate victory over your opponents. And there’s also an expansion available: Warrior Knights: Crown and Glory.

Talisman is a game that needs no introduction to veteran boardgamers; it pretty much defined the genre of ‘fantasy adventure boardgame’. For the uninitiated, players choose a fantasy character and explore a land filled with magical locations and fearsome enemies, gathering strength, craft, items and followers in a quest to reach the fabled Crown of Command. The original Talisman was released by GW way back in 1983 and several expansion sets quickly followed, along with further editions, the last in 1994. There followed a long hiatus, when old copies slowly fetched higher and higher prices on Ebay, until finally, a few years ago, the GW company Black Industries caused a lot of excitement in the gaming world by re-releasing the original.When Black Industries moved out of game publishing, their games Talisman, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games all moved over to FFG, who have kept the expansions coming thick and fast. You can already expand the base Talisman set with a small sets called The Reaper and The Frostmarch, and a larger set (with extra board) called Talisman: The Dungeon; and there’s a new large expansion, The Highland, coming soon.

Chaos Marauders is a fun and chaotic card game for 2-4 players that FFG recently re-released with very few changes from the 1997 original as part of their small-box ‘Silver Line’ range of games. Players place, in a battle-line, cards representing the various weird troops and characters in an orcish army. It’s fast-moving, random and doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and it’s a perfect ‘filler’ game with the right players.

New Games

After the successful re-release of some old GW favourites, it was time for FFG to see what they could do on their own with the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes. The first of these new games was Chaos in the Old World, and it’s a fantastic blend of the rich background of the Warhammer melieu, and modern boardgaming at its finest. Players each take on the role of one of the four ‘Ruinous Powers’, the horrific gods of Chaos in the Old World, trying to corrupt and destroy its innocent denizens. Not only is the game absolutely drenched in the grim, gritty fantasy of Warhammer, but its mechanics successfully blend modern area-control mechanics, combat and just the right amount of randomness to deliver a deeply satisfying and immersive game.

FFG have had great success with heir ‘Living Card Game’ (LCG) concept, creating popular card games set in the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos (Call of Cthulhu LCG), and George R. R. Martin’s world of Westeros (A Game of Thrones LCG).  These games are different from the traditional collectible card game format, in that fixed sets of cards are released regularly, thus keeping the game alive and expanding but doing away with the random blind-buying that could rapidly make collectible systems too expensive for players. Warhammer: Invasion LCG is their Warhammer-themed game in this format. The artwork absolutely jumps off the cards, and the game itself is fast-paced, easy to learn and offers endless strategic variations, card combos and surprises. There are several card expansion packs already available and more coming thick and fast from the FFG studios, making for an ever-expanding game experience.

Horus Heresy is the next big release on the horizon, and should be ready to buy soon after this article is published. Preview articles on the FFG website promise a spectacular, complex and exciting wargame in FFG’s reknowned ‘big box’ format, set in the gothic science-fiction Warhammer 40,000 universe that GW players know so well. There was an original Horus Heresy game, a relatively traditional map-and-counters affair that came out in 1993, but FFG looks to have really pulled out all the stops in re-making the game into something very special indeed. It’s full of plastic figures, now has a more tactical card-based order and combat system, and in general looks to be the boardgame that all Warhammer 40,000 aficionados have been eagerly waiting for.

RPGs

The FFG role-playing games (RPGs )that have been licenced from GW really deserve an article of their own, but here’s a quick rundown.

Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch are the titles of the three roleplaying game systems set in GW’s sci-fi universe of Warhammer 40,000. Recognising that there was just too much good background material to squeeze into one game, FFG have released three, each of which focusses on a different aspect of roleplaying in this dark and gothic future. Dark Heresy was the first, and gives you rules for playing Acolytes in the service of the Emperors’ Inquisition, hunting down the enemies of mankind in the form of foul mutants and aliens on distant planets, huge space hulks in the depths of space, and deep in the claustrophobic tunnels and underground vastnesses of planet-wide cities. Rogue Trader takes the game out into the spaces between the stars; you are the eponymous spaceship captains searching for profits in an endless, pitiless universe, battling pirates, buying and selling worlds, and discovering ancient civilisations. Deathwatch has just been announced, and finally allows players to become those guardians of the Emperor, the engineered super-soldiers known as Space Marines. Of course all of these system have (or will have, in the case of Deathwatch) numerous expansion books available.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) is a venerable fantasy RPG, first released by GW in 1986. With its surprisingly lethal combat and innovative career system—which let players be anything from a lowly rat-catcher in an Imperial city to an spiky-haired Dwarven Trollslayer—it immediately carved an axeblade-shaped chunk in the RPG world. Since then it has gone through several publishers and three distinct editions, the latest being FFGs brand new revamp. There was some controversy when the new system was announced as relying on dice pools and printed components—a big change from the earlier two editions—but that has pretty much settled down as people play and enjoy the new  game, and realise that the focus is still on the storytelling. So far the core game and an Adventurer’s Toolkit has been released, and coming soon is a Game Master’s Toolkit and a new adventure boxed set, The Gathering Storm.

As you can see, FFG is doing incredible things with the opportunity to develop new games set in the vast universes of Games Workshop. There will no doubt be many more great games to come!

For more information about the games mentioned in this article, visit Fantasy Flight Games at http://www.fantasyflightgames.com or http://www.gamesparadise.com.au

by Universal Head

Universal Head (www.universalhead.com), has been designing graphics from the most corporate to the most creative for more than twenty years. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, most notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent a year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for the computer game ‘The Omega Stone’. In between he’s designed everything from large corporate websites, to postage stamps, to a mobile phone interface. His personal site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

Board Games weekly giveaway! (Entries close 28/03/2010) CLOSED

Searching for a new board games in 2010? Would winning over $200 worth of FREE board games help?!?!

Simply enter your response (Right side of the Games Paradise Blog), and the weekly winner receives a Games Bundle worth over $200 as pictured below!
Competition Question

In 100 words or less, Name your favorite place in the world of monopoly and why?

The winner will be chosen by Games Paradise Australia on relevance, use of humour, style and content on March 28th 2010 and contacted by email by a Games Paradise Australia representative. This is a game of skill. Chance plays no part in determining the winner.

Entries close 28th March 2010!

Winner Announced 29th March 2010!
Board Games Pack up for Grabs this Week

This Weeks winner: Jason Conlon

Monopoloy’s Community Chest spots are my favourite, because: 1) I like surprises; 2) whenever I get to say the word “chest”, I can’t help doing it in a pirate voice, with a hearty “ARRR”; and 3) it’s the only chance this average Aussie bloke will ever have of winning a place in a beauty contest.


Fun and educational children’s games

Fun, energetic, smart and good looking. I’m not just describing your ideal partner here, but the essential criteria for a winning kids’ board game. Kids, like their parents, are usually time poor these days, so a game that’s fun and educational is hard to beat. If you want your kids to have a great time while developing valuable language, maths and/or problem solving skills, there are a whole range of fantastic games that will do the trick.

Games for young children that can:

Boost literacy skills Bananagrams

  • Articulate for Kids
  • Junior Scrabble

Test general knowledge

  • Trivial Pursuit for Kids
  • Wits End Junior

Extend creative skills

  • Pictionary – Junior Edition
  • Cranium Cadoo
  • Charades for Kids

Develop reasoning and problem solving skills

  • Cluedo Junior Detective
  • Rush Hour Junior

Teach numeracy skills

  • Ludo  (Links with National Curriculum Maths)
  • Dominos

Enhance colour & shape recognition

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game

Are you nurturing a 21st century Picasso or Meryl Streep?

All these games prove that being fun and educational are not mutually exclusive. For example, as well as improving vocabulary and spelling, Bananagrams encourages your kids to yell out cool stuff all through the game like “Split”, “Peel”, “Dump” and “Bananas”. (Funny voices are optional!) Cluedo Junior Detective hones kids’ analytical and deductive skills while Cranium Cadoo develops a whole range of creative skills like acting, sculpture and drawing. You could be shaping a 21st century Picasso or Meryl Streep in your very own living room!

Many kids’ games also come in a variety of themed editions, so you can often match a game to your child’s interests. As some games are essentially junior versions of adult games, kids can gradually grow into these more advanced versions as their skills develop.

What’s your pick of the best educational, fun kids’ games?

My list is in no way exhaustive. It’s just a small selection from the huge array of children’s games available in stores. But ultimately, it’s up to the kids. If they’re asking to play a game over and over, and seem to be learning at the same time, then the game’s a winner. What’s your child’s favourite learning game?

An Introduction to BattleLore

I was trudging along the muddy verge of an ancient highway, heading south back to the land of my birth, when I first heard the distant rhythm. I immediately stopped and hid myself among the bracken that lined the muddy ditch to the side of the road. I had not long to wait. The clanking of metal upon metal became louder, accompanied by the martial rhythm of hundreds of feet marching in time. And then, around a bend in the road, the vanguard of the invading army appeared. Knights caparisoned for war, their bright banners flapping violently in the fitful breeze, the horses snorting clouds of vapour in the still-cold air of the morning. Behind the knights came the main force of men drawn up in disciplined rows, their short swords banging against their thighs, the companies identified by banner bearers who held the symbols of the army aloft. Then, the mercenaries, groups of grubby goblins in stained bronze armour, and behind them goblins mounted on restless scaly beasts that sniffed the air as they rode by, and made me retreat further back into the bracken.

If you enjoy the mighty clash of armies, strategic decisions in the heat of battle, and the manipulation of powerful magics, then BattleLore is the game system for you! BattleLore is a game system of medieval battles that was originally released by Days of Wonder (DOW) back in 2006. Since then the game has had nine expansions, and in 2008 found a new home at Fantasy Flight Games (FFG), who plan to expand the BattleLore line even further.

BattleLore uses an easy-to-play wargame system called ‘Commands & Colors’, invented by the game designer Richard Borg. This system first appeared in an American Civil War-themed Avalon Hill game called Battle Cry in 2000, then the hugely successful DOW game series Memoir ’44 in 2004, the Command & Colors: Ancients series by GMT Games in 2006, and finally—to date—BattleLore. All of these games share core elements—a deck of Command cards, a board divided into large hexes, and a set of battle dice with symbols on them. With the exception of C&C:Ancients, which uses blocks, the games use plastic miniatures (usually arranged in units of three or four figures) to represent the armies on the board. In BattleLore, these units are identified by coloured plastic banners.

The great thing about BattleLore and the Commands & Colors system in general, is that you can enjoy a satisfying wargame without all the fiddly complexity that wargames are often known for. BattleLore is relatively fast to set up, looks spectacular—especially if you’re dedicated enough to paint the figures—plays fast, and has just the right balance between strategy and luck

So how do you play? Every game requires a scenario, or Adventure as they’re called in BattleLore, which gives you instructions about which figures to set up on the table, which terrain elements to put on the board to make the battlefield unique, the victory conditions, any special rules, and how many Command cards each Commander (player) receives. The Command cards are what drives the game. Each turn you choose a Command card from your hand, and this card tells you which of your forces you can ‘activate’—move and attack—in your turn. Most are Section cards, which allow you to activate a certain number of units on either the left, centre or right flanks of the battlefield. Other cards are Tactics cards, which let you make special activations, such as charging your cavalry into the fray, or firing twice with your archers, or counter-attacking an opponent’s Command card.

You move your units, and then, if you wish, can attack with ranged weapons or in melee combat. Various weapons have different ranges and strengths, but basically you roll a number of Command dice, and depending on the symbols, do damage, and/or cause the target units to flee. Coloured helmet symbols matching the banner colour of the target unit are usually a hit; a bonus strike symbol can be a hit depending on the weapon used; a flag symbol can cause the target unit to flee one or more hexes; and a Lore symbol can be used to activate Lore cards, which have magic and other special effects.

Lore cards bring a unique element to the game of BattleLore. If both players agree, at the start of the game you can set up a War Council consisting of several Lore Masters—the Warrior, Cleric, Wizard and Rogue. Each of these Lore Masters has a deck of Lore cards that can unleash powerful effects on the field of battle.  For example, the Wizard can create a magical portal that can teleport a unit across the battlefield; the Rogue can spring an ambush so your unit can attack first when attacked; the Warrior can parry an attack, causing an opponent’s attack to be weakened, and the Cleric can make the very hills quake, damaging units on and around this terrain! Players power all of these effects by spending Lore counters, which they receive during the game when they roll the Lore symbol on their Battle dice.

The BattleLore core set was chock-full of plastic armies—human, dwarf and goblin—but it wasn’t long before the expansions began to roll out. The first was Call to Arms, an unique army-building system that used card decks instead of points. This was followed by army packs that expanded the options available to Dwarf and Goblin armies, including Goblin ostrich riders and Dwarven bagpipers! For those players that preferred to play the game without the Lore rules and concentrate on historical scenarios of the Hundred Years’ War period, the Crossbows and Polearms set was a must-buy. The Epic expansion provided rules for playing on double-sized battlefields with larger armies and extra Command card options, and is believed by many to be the best way to experience the game’s full potential.

With the transfer of BattleLore to FFG, two new sets—Creatures and Dragons—have given BattleLore players more creatures to rampage over their battlefields, including a Hydra with interchangeable heads, and of course that essential fantasy staple, Dragons.

So what’s the future of BattleLore at FFG? Well, they’ve just announced Battles of Westeros, a BattleLore-inspired game that recreates warfare in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world from his A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels. It’s been announced that BattleLore will be the brand name of a series of medieval tactical warfare games using both the Command & Colors system, and other new wargaming systems. It’s definitely a time of change for BattleLore players, but what is now known as ‘classic BattleLore’ will still be supported and expanded by FFG—though in what forms are yet to be revealed.

Until then however, there is already a huge wealth of BattleLore goodies out there that can provide thousands of hours of exciting wargaming enjoyment. And the battle has just begun!

For more information about the BattleLore line of products, visit Fantasy Flight Games at http://www.fantasyflightgames.com and the unofficial BattleLore site BattleLoreMaster at http://www.battleloremaster.com.

Finally, the army was gone, and stillness descended again over the old road. I emerged from the ditch and with a last glance at the dust cloud that marked the army’s passing, hurried onwards to my rendezvous.


Universal Head


Universal Head (www.universalhead.com), has been designing graphics from the most corporate to the most creative for more than twenty years. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, most notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent a year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for the computer game ‘The Omega Stone’. In between he’s designed everything from large corporate websites, to postage stamps, to a mobile phone interface. His personal site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

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