Month: November 2018

Sabakon 2018 Review, Photos & Music

We were invited to Sabakon so I thought I’d write about the venue and overall experience.

Sabakon bills itself as an anime, video gaming, and pop culture convention. Its a convention that is ran for fans, by fans. I think a lot of conventions start that way, but eventually become more about the business, but not Sabakon. Sabakon is a chaotic, fun, mess of a convention that sprawls throughout the venue it’s at, which this year (like several years in the past) was Alexis Park.
Don’t expect an orderly convention hall with long lines and a vague corporate/airport feel, this convention is spread throughout a Las Vegas resort requiring navigating between one side of the resort to the other in order to see everything the convention has to offer.

As it’s name would suggest, there is a strong Japanese focus to the convention, which unfortunately often discourages some fans who love “video games and pop culture” but have no interest in anime whatsoever. I think it’s safe to say at this point that anime is as richly embedded in pop culture as pop culture has been infiltrated by anime, and I highly recommend people who enjoy these kinds of events to come check it out. This convention isn’t for everyone, but I think its for more people than they would think. Panels about cosplay, voice actors, and podcasts are there in addition to the more Japanese-themed anime panels. Cool toys and collectibles are available of all sorts of fandoms, not just anime, and the artist alley has as many authors and doodad makers as it does anime artists.

A short aside about the artist alley. Something I really was pleasantly surprised about Sabakon was how the artist alley took up a space as large as the vendor hall and to many visitors to the convention I’m fairly sure people had no idea that the artists were individuals selling their creations versus the vendors and their products. I like that a lot and think it says a lot for the community of Sabakon.

The community aspect of Sabakon in general was super cool, but I can also see how some people might feel like its too disorganized or feel “more” lonely because of how many people are having fun in groups which can make loners feel even more lonely.  All I would say to those lonely introverts is to recognize that most of the people visiting the convention are fellow introverts who struggle to branch out and form social connections just like themselves.  It takes time to get to the point of recognizing people and being recognized, but don’t take it personal when someone doesn’t remember you or doesn’t do more than talk and leave.  Many of us get burned out by being around crowds and desperately need some alone time and we don’t recognize when we hurt someone’s feelings by what is perceived as a “brush off”.

There was plenty of space walking through the halls, and the timing of the convention (so late in the year) made it much cooler, allowing for those heavier/warmer cosplays that didn’t work when the convention was held closer to summer with the harsh Las Vegas heat.  Personally, this was the best Sabakon I’ve been to in years with the perfect ratio of casualness, temperature, and cool stuff to see and do.

Thanks Sabakon for having us, can’t wait for next year!

Renegade Scout — Captain Redd versus The Swarm!

Come join Ludanto as he does an epic gameplay of Renegade Scout. This tabletop miniatures game is fantastically narrated as Captain Redd attempts to survive against the swarm in this Nordic Weasel miniatures board game!

To follow along with the rules, here is the link: https://www.wargamevault.com/product/249657/Renegade-Scout–Bleeding-Edge-Retro-Gaming

Edited by:
Jason Smith

Renegade Scout — Captain Redd versus The Swarm!

Arkham Horror 3rd Edition – Review

Today we’re exploring Arkham Horror 3rd edition, exploring the pieces and talking about what I like and dislike about this game and whether I think it’s for you.

I preordered Arkham Horror as soon as it was available, and since receiving it I’ve played a couple games and explored this fantastic Deluxe rulebook, and I feel ready to share some of my first impressions.
The game plays by choosing a scenario. Unlike Arkham Horror 2nd edition, this isn’t just a big monster, it’s an entire narrative that will affect many parts of the game.

You’ll build up the neighborhoods for the scenario you choose, in my case, I chose the Approach of Azathoth and this is the neighborhood setup for that scenario, scenarios also include event decks, monster decks, and even the Mythos Cup configuration, which is effectively a custom die for each scenario which determines what will randomly happen at the end of each player’s turn. The largest part of the scenario is the archive cards, these work like choose your own adventure stories which give you passes and failures to dictate what happens next.

In addition to the scenario configuration, you have headlines, neighborhood decks, items, and spell decks, then you’ll choose your investigators. None of the fruit loops of 2nd edition, these investigators look much more similar to Eldritch Horror with some basic stats, a single choice of which perk you begin with, and some powers that make your character fairly unique.

This game feels strangely similar and dissimilar from other Arkham games that came before it. Neighborhood encounter decks, travelling through neighborhoods? That’s Arkham Horror. Single decks that have mixes of types, streamlined play, that’s Eldritch Horror. Flat no dice monster attacks, a neighborhood layout per scenario, and using a bag to determine random events, feels lmore ike Arkham Horror the Living Card Game. All of these seem familiar to other Arkham games. What is most different is the combination of different Arkham elements combined with a very fast pace that seems faster and more than any Arkham game before.

We know we’re trying to save the world, we know we’re going to be pushed to the limits of our ability to cooperate and delegate tasks, but this seems like the most challenging and adrenalin pumping version of Arkham yet.

Arkham Horror the 3rd edition feels like a version of Arkham Horror that matches more what my group asks out of games. We want the complexity of feeling almost overwhelmed with our cooperative games,along with a strong thematic component, but we want quick setups and teardowns along with a reliable playtime of less than 3 hours.

From that perspective, the game is good, and I’m happy to continue exploring it. But I do have some misgivings that I’m unsure I’ll overcome. Arkham Horror 2nd edition had the first few rounds where not much threatening was going on, and the group, often always including some new players, would wander around, picking up some cool interesting good stuff, suffer some insanity-causing old lady turning into a slathering monster random event or whatever, and then, just when things seem easy, start to careen out of control as more and more things pop up faster than the team could deal with them until we either defeated the scenario or we failed. Those first few rounds were crucial to get people to bond with their character, often defining their image of their character based on what initially happened to them. It felt “narrative”, it felt like a lite RPG.

In this game, we have characters, equipment, stats, all hallmarks of an RPG, but then things happen so fast that we already feel on the verge of losing by the end of the first round. The focus immediately changes to the scenario, not the characters, which some might feel is a good thing, but in my opinion, it makes it harder to get new players invested in 3rd edition in the way that they were in 2nd edition.

The characters are “more” unique, in terms of abilities, than in other Arkham board games, many of them capable of and doing far different things than the other games, and hopefully they start releasing some of the content that existed in 2nd edition like the life goals and their consequences, but I’m not sure if there is room in the current game to allow for them to exist.

In our games, many players expressed frustration that they were surrounded by monsters or were delayed by random events, such that they had very little they could do other than deal with the monsters. The idea is supposed to be that now you choose whether to engage with monsters, and if you do, and aren’t able to kill it, then you will take damage. But the reality in our games has been that the monsters move and attack us faster than we can get away, and even though none of us have died, the consequence has been endless rounds of fighting monsters.

I’m sure to a certain extent we’ll get better, not just better at our decisions, but also better at choosing our party to make sure we have a balanced team that can better handle all the challenges put before us. That too is a part of Arkham, though it never was as quickly obvious in other Arkham games as it is in this one.

In addition to the break-neck pace, I feel like the game is lacking some things that I feel are a crucial part of the Arkham “horror” experience, which is otherworldly gates. It feel strange to play an Arkham Horror game without gates, but on the other hand, I REALLY hope that we get a scenario or something that allows our characters to journey into another neighborhood that is really another dimension. We have that slightly by way of the anomolies, but I really want the full experience capable by this new dynamic board. I’d love a bit more staggered approach to the game as well, something more similar to Eldritch Horror where the game gets progressively more crazy the longer it continues. They have that with the scenario via the archive cards, but future scenarios could leverage that a little bit more, perhaps set the scenario starting BEFORE things go off the rails, then the 2nd or third archive really unleashing hell on earth. Full disclosure, I’ve only played the Azothoth scenario as we’re still trying to defeat it, its possible other scenarios have less combat.

Overall, I like this game, I’m an Arkham fanboy and will gobble up all of the future Arkham Horror 3rd edition supplements they release, but I do hope they come out with those supplements sooner than later as 4 scenarios likely isn’t enough.

What about you, is the game too punishing, just punishing enough? What about the speed of the game? Tell me down below in the comments! As you watch this video, we should be just about cresting 1000 subscribers, and with that, our Cthulhu Wars contest will begin! We’re going to be announcing the details in the next two weeks via our Twitch and youtube livestreams.