Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year in Other Gaming

Yesterday's little DF retrospective was actually really fun to write, so I'll do one for my non-DF gaming.

Swords & Wizardry - I got in two sessions of Swords and Wizardry this year with Erik Tenkar. Good stuff - really enjoyable. It reminds me of how fun playing can be. It also reminds me why I GM GURPS, not a DnD clone, because what's abstracted is what I usually want more detailed and vice-versa. But still, good players, good pace, and a good GM + a system I understand = fun, fun game.

Video Games - I played a bunch of Skyrim, including Dragonborn. I love the game, although I've done pretty much all I was interested in doing with it. Still, utterly beautiful and really enjoyable. An extremely well-timed sale on Borderlands 2 for $9.95 on Xbox Live convinced me to finally pick it up after watching my friend Ryan give it a whirl. I immediately gravitated to Salvador, the Gunzerker, because if you've ever seen me fight in competition, you know I tend to try to pick you off at range, until you hit me and then I charge straight in to point blank and chase you around if you back up.
Borderlands is kind of annoying in that you have to clear whole stages before a save does more than set you back to the beginning with a full re-pop, so I have to put it aside until I have the couple of hours I need to work my way through a stage. More than once I got killed by marauders that repopped when I was just heading back to a vending machine to sell some loot before I quit for the day. Annoying. Still, enough fun that I started a replay through on a harder mode (Ultimate Vault Hunter) and when I get a bit of time I pull out the controller, go gunzerk and spray cartoony world with gunfire. The irony to the good price is the expansions are too expensive compared to what I paid for it, so I've cruised solely on the core game. It's more than enough fun for me. Although I do spend a lot of time tracking down Claptrap just to hear his dubstep song again.

A good lesson in that game is the BBEG taunts the living hell out of you the whole game, coming across as twisted, annoying, and arrogant yet a little insecure. He interacts with you regularly, not enough that you tune him out but enough to bug you. By the time you meet him you're extremely ready to kick his ass. It's a good lesson for roleplaying games, too - all too often the BBEG is just some powerful guy you've never heard of, and have no special reason to loathe. No one playing Borderlands 2 is going to say "Handsome Jack? Was that the BBEG's name?" No, you know him well by the end and can't wait to shoot at him. GMing Tip: Play some Borderlands 2 and have your BBEG in contact with the PCs . . . you won't need rails to get them to chase him down, they'll fly after him willingly.

I played some Halo: Reach, too, but it got annoying after a while and I just stopped. Same with Assassin's Creed - I'm very bad at jumping games, and it's a jumping game. Sorry, I am a ten-thumbed brawler and it's not for me. Black Flag looks awesome, and sounds fun, but I know I'll just be frustrated trying to play it. But GTA:V is on my to-do list for next year.

Board & Card Games - I played a couple partial games of Awful Green Things with a student, but that won't last because there isn't enough hard vocab or difficult concepts to practice (I teach ESL.) I got zero games of Munchkin in this year, sadly - my best partners for it are my DF group and we always prefer that to Munchkin. I played so many games of Fluxx (3.0 not 4.0, no Creepers, just Keepers) with my ESL students I can't even count them. Great ESL tool, because it's easy to explain but they must read the cards and understand the English to have a chance at winning. The faster they read, the better their chances. The newer version with Creepers and Keepers is harder to explain, too hard for beginning readers, and just didn't work well in the classroom because of the difficulty in understanding what to do. Simple with growing complexity is better than immediate complexity for second-language learners. Amusingly I also have that edition in Japanese, and I used to handicap myself by playing with those cards in Japan, which just tells you how many times I've played the game since I could explain the rules even when I couldn't read the characters on the cards.

I also got in a single game of Deluxe Ogre and I hope to get in more.

I played other games, but nothing too exciting - Uno, Go Fish, etc. - purely educational/speaking practice stuff, not actually gaming for fun. Fluxx still manages to count as fun.

Minis - I painted a bit pile of minis this year. Finished my Grenadier Hirelings, painted a bunch of Bones (and took delivery of, and traded off, a lot of my Kickstarter rewards). I backed the next Bones Kickstarter. I did some show-and-tell.
Importantly to me, I finished a lot of partly-done minis I had laying around, like these hyenas, and some guys I love but just couldn't figure out how to finish. They're done now and waiting for their tabletop debuts. I even got a freebie flying base (well, I traded a Bones bat swarm for a couple) to base some flying minis I have.

I stopped painting when it got cold, but I'll start back up when it warms up and I'm slowly stockpiling the art supplies I need for when that happens.

Writing - I wrote a little bit this year. Nothing too much - but Sean Punch and I got a Power-Ups article crammed into Pyramid 3/61. I wrote at least one other article, but it's gotten bumped for space at least once . . . and then once again by my own stuff. It's fine - a thin year for publication but it was still good.

My other works sold steadily - a handful or so of copies of each, each and every month, so the long tail effect of always-in-stock PDFs worked for me. Still, I need to get more done. But Doug Cole and I have been banging around on two articles - one potentially awesome, and one awesomely amusing (to us at least) - so I'm hoping to get at least three items published this year. I have a vague idea for a full-sized e23 book, but it depends on a lot of yes answers.

All in all, combined with a lot of DF gaming, it's been a good year for gaming. I am looking forward to more of the same - more S&W, more video gaming, more writing, more minis painting - but it hasn't happened yet. I won't count as done what's not yet done. Still it was a good year and there isn't any immediate sign the next one can't be good too!

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