Category Archives: GAMES

Digital to Dice and Everything in Between.

Geek Tested – Pogo Approved!

There is not denying it. Serial Killers are fascinating. Sure, they represent the absolute worst in humanity, but there is something about them we simple can’t deny. Something about the Gacys, Ramiezs, and Geins of the world we humans find intriguing. We make and consume award winning films and shows about them. Why not then, during this creepy time of year should we not partake in a disturbing trivia game about them? Enter Culture Heroes and their newest Serial Killer Trivia Game. Not some mere “I know more about Jack the Ripper than you” style game. Oh no. This time, like the best serial killer Profiler, you get into the mind of a killer and prove your intellectual superiority. In a psycho why. Morbid? Absolutely, but to deny such things would be to deny our own nature. (And a fun way  to pass an evening).

Presentation

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With two innocent folks about to meet an untimely demise at the blade of John Wayne Gacy on the cover, The Serial Killer Trivia Game is hard to miss. The back of the game provides a much appreciated look at the board, tokens, and a messed up quote from Richard Ramirez. The box is sturdy with a good plastic coating, allowing for years of repeated use without much wear and tear on the game. Once open, the same sturdy design follows throughout the box. The folded quad playing board is quite sturdy and unfolds into place with little to no bulking. The two sets of cards, Questions and Scenario, come in a basic box (complete with Charles Manson’s wacko eyes). Double-sided for longer use, the cards are a little thin. However, like everything else in the game, the cards has a good plastic coating and will survive long term play. The game also comes with “Kill Tokens”, Player Tokens, and 3 standard 6-sided dice. Representing both location and kill, the Kill Tokens can cause some confusion for first time players with the color schemes. Still, this is a very good looking and sturdy game.

The Game

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Not a simple trivia game, the players take on the roll of their “favorite” serial killer, (or, at least their favorite from Gein, Bundy, Ramirez, Wuornos, and Fish). Test your knowledge of all things killer as you stalk the neighborhood looking for victims. The first player to get and bury 5 kills wins the game. Like I said, this sucker leans way to the morbid side and as suggested on the box, not meant for kids. If you’re okay with the concept, you’re gonna’ have a blast with this game. Starting in your own neighborhood, you need to roll up to 3 dice and move around the homes till you’re able to land in the center home and attempt to claim your kill. You make that kill by answering one of the trivia cards. Assuming your life isn’t consumed by serial killers, the questions will be adequately difficult. From there, you need to move on to a fresh neighborhood, with fresh victims. Moving around the board does present one of the issues with the game. Unless allowed by a Scenario card, more on those later, you may only travel through legal spaces. You can’t jump fences or cross “boarder lines”. The graphic layout of the game makes these legal spaces a little hard to see. So, keep a good eye on moving around the board, lest you inadvertently cheat. (Catching the irony of following the rules while playing a serial killer). Before moving, the player decides to roll one, two, or three dice; once rolled, you must move that number. As you need to land with an exact roll on a victims center house, there is some strategy in choosing dice. (You can also choose to stand still and end your turn should you not like your roll).

Scenario cards work with or against you in your quest to get 5 kills first. Like the rest of the game, scenario cards are firmly planted in the morbid humor category with events like “you tried to make a buck selling your bosses kidneys, should have killed him first though – He called the cops and you’re on the run” – Lose a Turn. There is some confusion with the scenario cards, as one section of the rules state you must draw and use them should you land on a scenario location. While a few sentences later, the rules claim scenario cards are completely optional. When testing the game, we decided to split the difference. You didn’t have to draw a scenario card, but if you did, you had to act on it immediately. Made for some hilarious and chaotic play. Perfect for this game.

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Once you get a kill, you need to drop the body off at printed body dump locations on the board. Again, a fairly straight-forward concept that suffers from some fuzzy rules. Unlike the rest of the game, you do not need to roll an exact number to dump a body, simply running over the site works. While it doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable, it does generate a slight bump in the flow. You will find yourself reminding some players they don’t need to think out their dumping. (Like old school D&D, where you needed to remember what you needed to roll high and roll low for. Just pay attention). As I mentioned in the presentation portion of the game, some of the color schemes on the Kill Tokens are a little confusing to new players. The circle color representing the killer the token belongs, while the skull and cross bone color represented the neighborhood in which you made the kill. Not a big deal, but one you may find yourself explaining the colors a couple times throughout the game to new folks.

Wrap-Up

Assuming you aren’t a member of the Addams Family (or Duran house), The Serial Killer Trivia Game isn’t for family game night, but a great way for some adults to pass the hours. This is a solid trivia game with some strategy elements that help it rise above most niche-based trivia games. A few production issues notwithstanding, this is an impressive and well made game. I think after a few production runs, most of the rules slip-ups and design issues with work there way out. As the nights grow longer, get some of your twisted friends together. Bake some meat pies, pop in the Dexter soundtrack, and have a killer of a time!

You can order your copy HERE.

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Sometimes, Zed is Better…

It will take a serious bit of willpower to not call in sick Tuesday… Just so I can plant my butt in front of the Xbox 360 and blaze through this little gem:

To my knowledge, The Sacrifice is one of the first DLCs usable on either version of a video game. That’s right, only own Left 4 Dead or Left 4 Dead 2? No worries, The Sacrifice will play on either. ‘Course, if you don’t own both, there is a good chance you aren’t all that excited to begin with. What to do while you wait for Tuesday? Pop on over to Valve and check out the gorgeous The Sacrifice comic from Michael Oeming.

Then, just a few weeks later. The whole reason I’ve hung onto Red Dead Redemption hits the DLC. (Don’t get me wrong, the game has a grip of replay value with all the online options. I’m just not a big online gamer). Unless, of course, I’m hunting the Gawd Damn Undead! Undead Nightmare hits the dirty west and I can’t wait to skin ma’ smokewagon and put some friggen zombies back into the dirt:

Look for a review from both as they break. Until next time. Aim for the head!480_zenegeek

Back in the Day Boardgames – DragonRaid!

Time for another trip down the Back in the Day Boardgames alley. This time, we take a look at the one and only Role Playing Game promising an entrance ticket into the pearly gates. Packed with Dragons, Moonbridges, and a messianic waterfall. Gather round the gaming table kids, for today I tell a tale of DragonRaid!

It is the early 1980s, Dungeons and Dragons is reaching it’s peak of popularity. Hell, Steven Spielberg references the game in E.T. Alas, with such popularity comes controversy. Role Playing Games were evil and the most evil and vile of them all was Dungeons and Dragons. Special sermons preached for parents whose children were quickly falling into the grasp of El Diablo (and poor, poor hygiene). It had to be evil; kids were offing themselves whenever their character died! Demons were being summoned in Drama Clubs all over the country! Black cloaks in our schools! Jack Chick printers jamming under the stress of heightened demand! Children were being assaulted on all sides by the great Lucifer and his minions: Ozzy Osborne and that bastard Gary Gygax. Well, Stryper saved the metal masses from Ozzy, but it was the unsung hero Dick Wulf who saved the hell bound dice tossers. Dick Wulf, the Gary Gygax of good Christian RPGs, set out to create a game that would allow Christian parents to feel safe while their kids gamed. Mr. Wulf made sure children were not consorting with demonic forces as they consumed mass quantities of Mountain Dew and Doritos. His goal? Well, to quote the box set:

DragonRaid is an exciting experience in adventure simulation. More than just a game, it offers hours of enjoyment while teaching participants to resist sin, counter deceptive arguments, memorize Scripture, and build moral and spiritual character. The DragonRaid system encompasses many different adventures. On the mythical world of EdenAgain, players meet challenges that parallel real life. The imagined dangers compel them to grapple with conflicting values, discover how faith in Christ can shape behavior, and reflect on what is really worth living and dying for.

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I will forever remember the day my folks brought the shiny red box set home from the store. I heard the van pull up; quickly I hid my “Fiend Folio” in the carved trapdoor under my bed (sorry mom) and ran out to great them. My mom grinned ever so wide, she knew I had the mad love for fantasy and now her boy could have his fun and not burn in eternal torment. Truthfully, I was happy for her gesture but I’m sure for completely different reasons. She saw me as the instantly converted. Sorry mom, the DragonRaid box is the same size as my Players Handbook with room to spare for a couple of character sheets. Thanks for enabling me mom! I did, however, take the box with glee and jumped right in. To be fair to the game, it was pretty ahead of its time in presentation. It came with a couple of rule books. One for LightRaiders (the COOLEST name for PCs), one for the Adventure Master, some quick reference sheets, a couple of D10s (more on those later), a battle map (pre D&D 3rd edition folks), cardboard characters, some blank character sheets, and a tape with an audio example of EdenAgain and rule explanation. Be hard pressed to find so complete a game in this era of “to be explained in up-coming supplements” games.

Okay, so the game itself.

I can’t honestly remember the rule systems, but it was based on the D10. The game recommended that you only use the ones the game came with or buy clear D10s. Why were these specific D10s so special? Well, when the Jesus left this world he traveled to EdenAgain. A planet under assault from Satan and his Draconic hordes. He basically did the same thing on EdenAgain as he did here on Earth. With the same results: Some followed him, others hated him. With no Romans to have him crucified this time, what was a messiah to do? This time he gave his life by turning himself into a waterfall and allowing the Dragons to evaporate him. Honest. Dragon steam.

There were no grey areas in EdenAgain. Dragons and their monster minions: Evil! Humans who follow the Dragons: Quasi-Evil! (You weren’t supposed to kill them, but instead do your best to convert them, if that failed…Smite the buggers)! The player characters: Good. As to those D10s. When EdenAgain’s Christ (here-after called EAC) came back, he told his followers that they could always see him in this special star encased in a holy gem. Now then, if you take a D10 and hold it up to the light while looking through the “pointy” end what do you see? Ah yea, the symbol of EAC. Little gimmicky, but when you’re an impressionable (read, easily amused) 10 year old, pretty friggen cool!

It had your standard fantasy monsters, your standard player classes, and even the standard fantasy race. DragonRaid did have some rather some strange skills, like the righteous; Hatred of Evil. Again, to be fair, evil was a very REAL element in DragonRaid and not a simple moral choice. But then again, isn’t hatred also? Eh, who cares, I was going to kick Troll ass for the Lord! You’ll notice I’ve not yet brought up magic, without which fantasy games would be historical simulation, and that’s REALLY dorky. So how did DragonRaid handle such an occult tradition? Simple, your LightRaiders could channel the power of God by reciting real biblical scripture! I don’t mean you tell the Adventure Master “My Lightbringer casts Water to Wine”; hell no. According to the rules players had to memorize (not just read) real bible passages in order to “evoke miracles”. When you think about it you are in effect casting a divine spell and let me tell you, if my folks ever heard of a game that required me to memorize lines from any other religious belief they would have flipped, but this was okay I guess. At first I thought this was a lame way to cast spells (of which I still called the “miracles” much to my mom’s annoyance). Then I came to understand the fun I could have and still claim I was doing the Lord’s work. Imagine if you will, a young Geek dressed in a really bad Moses style robe, standing on my bed, arms open to the sky, other players at my feet crying out:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” – HEBREWS 12:28,29

Then rolling something like 20d10 for damage as I called force a pillar of heavenly flame to smite damn near anything within a 100 yard radius! Mind you, I’m not making this up. Again, from the rules:

BRINGS DOWN FIRE FROM HEAVEN TO CONSUME ALL SURROUNDING DARK CREATURES. (May only be used once in a LightRaiders life).

The family became concerned with the turn my gaming life was taking. Sure, they got me off the Devil’s game (or so they thought), but I was still a little zealous in my desire to smite and roll funky dice. Taking the game (that was now covered in highlights by my mom over so called “questionable material”) to my pastor for analysis, my dear sweet mom had me sit down and talk with him. The same pastor that used to lone me Terry Brooks novels and Alice Cooper albums. Needless to say, when she heard he and I talking about how Asmodeous killed his Paladin back in the day, the gig was up.

So how did it all end? Well, I’m still a two-fisted dungeon master and I’m willing to bet my old pastor still reads Terry Brooks. I just wish I had that old box set of DragonRaid; it would have a place of honor among my other classic gaming sets.

Until next time remember: Follow the Moon Bridge to your God…

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Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, aka…

…The Return of the Red Box!

Is the D&D Starter Set a true return to the Red Box of old? Well, more on that at the end of the review. First, the disclaimer.

I still don’t like 4E. I’ve tried. I’ve tried a lot. I can see the appeal. Shoot, I even had fun on the Dark Sun game day. But I still just can’t fully grok 4th Edition. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with the mechanics of 4E. The game flows. Combat is relatively streamlined. Skill checks leave me wanting, but I am the first to admit that it’s a personal choice. (Hell, I’m someone that liked Secondary Skills – At least I’m up front about it).

With all that in mind, I like what Wizards of the Coast is going for with the new Starter Set.

Clocking in at $20.00, this is an introduction set in the truest sense of the word. If you’ve never played D&D and have always been curious or, (as I believe the intended audience) have a kid that wants to know more; but you can’t justify the $90 for a full Core Rules books, this is the purchase for you. The Starter Set includes everything a completely new player needs to enjoy their first game. Short Players Guide, short Dungeon Masters Guide, character sheets, PC and Monster tokens, Battle mat, and dice. It even has rules for a solo adventure, so you can test out the game without a DMs involvement. (Though to really experience the game, you need a DM. Still, glad WotC included the solo).

The game mechanics have been streamlined a little more from the standard 4E rules. Combat and skill checks are extremely basic. PC characters are limited to the classic Fighter, Wizard, Rouge, and Cleric. Races, again are limited to the fantasy baseline of Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. In that respect, the new Starter Set feels akin to the old school D&D of the 1970s and 80s. Character creation is simple, though the younger gamers may find the process a little boring. It may not be a bad idea to make some ahead of time and let kids pick their favorite if you want to get them right into the thick of play.

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I know I keep referencing small kids in this review. Intentional or not, the new Starter Set feels like an ages 10 and under introduction to Dungeons and Dragons. This isn’t a bad thing. If you have a kid that likes fantasy and expressed an interest in games, (and you don’t want them on a PC or console all the time) you could do a lot worse than the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. The rules are simple, while not being boring. The Starter Set will take a fresh group of players and DM up through 2nd level, by then you will know if the game is for you or not. (And, whether or not you’re ready to make that $90 commitment). The graphic presentation is strong, this is one gorgeous box set. There are only a couple of rule typos – like failing to mention how Magic Missile no longer targets multiple creatures. However, these are minor complaints about a box set that really does deliver on it’s promise:

Your First Step on the Road to Adventure.

Wizards of the Coast is never going to sway the old fuddy like me. They will never get me to like 4th Edition. I can play it with friends, but I’ll never shake that nagging feeling in the back of my fanboy head. “This isn’t MY D&D”.

But, if I wanted to get new players into the hobby. Players that never once picked up a set of poly dice. The Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set is the way to go.

So yea, this is the Return of the Red Box!

Age Matters Not.

Yes, I’m cheating again. However, this one is for a good cause (other than laziness – which is a true cause in and of itself). I am currently Halfling deep in the 1991 Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (and loving every slide-graph moment of it) when an idea hit me…

What would happen if you had the old school face off against the new school? Or, can a group that only knows D&D 4th Edition enjoy the most basic of fantasy rules set; and vice-versa, can the “get off my lawn” gamer crowd (of which I am slowly becoming) enjoy a session of 4th Edition?  While I gather a few players (drop me a line on the Contact Page if you’re interested in playing and/or DM’n), please enjoy this earliest of GeekintheCity Gamer posting from Spring 2004…

Whew, someone has been slacking lately. I wish I could blame it on a Denubian Slime Devil, but truth be told, I’ve just been a big ‘ol lazy Geek. To be fair, I am in the middle of moving… Yea, that’s it! Anyway, few days ago I found myself cleaning up after Saturday’s game. Among the usual trappings of Mountain Dew bottles, Tato-Skins crumbs, and various scraps of paper I found a lone D20. Ah the D20, arguably the most important die in the polyhedral pantheon of role-playing games. At least in the system we play it is, there are others that use the D10 primarily and others still that mainly use the very vanilla and easy to purchase D6. The D20 rolls better then the D8 (the WORST of all rollers in this humble Geek’s opinion). The D20 looks a bit sexier then it’s cousin, the D12 (the dice, not the hip-hop guys). The D20 is FAR safer then the ever dangerous D4, (seriously, games STOP when “D4 on the floor” is yelled, and you would understand why if you ever stepped on one barefooted in the middle of the night while relieving yourself of said Mountain Dew)! However, far and away the best trait of the D20 is that it is the easiest to swallow…

What? Don’t look at me that way. It is. Period. It’s basically round and if you buy a standard size D20 it slides just fine down your throat… Might choke a baby, but an adult would be fine. (That was a bit much; wonder how many folks stopped reading? Sheesh you make one baby joke and the whole world turns on you). Now then, I’m not saying I know from experience that a person could swallow it, I’m just saying that it LOOKS like you could swallow it.

Okay, so I almost found out…

See there is a simple rule when you get a bunch of guys over. They can and will dare themselves into anything… ANYTHING. That includes swallowing a D20 just cause you think you can (or cause another gamer bet that you couldn’t). There I am your friendly neighborhood Geek, sitting at the head of the gaming table watching my fellow dice rollers dare each other to do it. Well not all, there was “Sally”, the lone woman in our group and I am so glad we have her. Not just cause she is a good player, but because she is often the voice of reason among the XY group. (Although she has her moments too, but it often catches us dudes off guard so nothing “bad” ever happens). The daring went on and on. I shall do my best to avoid the graphic images associated with swallowing a D20, but suffice to say that even I was getting caught up in the daring. Imagine if you will: Three (relatively) grown men, one with a child himself (a child whom I am CERTAIN would get busted for even thinking of swallowing a D20) daring each other to swallow dice. Here I am egging them on. Telling them that I will give extra experience points to the first one who does it. This is like giving gold to a gamer, XP without risking a character? Damn man, sign me up! But wait, it gets better (and more graphic), I suggest that the player who…um…eh…”leaves” the best roll will get a free critical hit next time we game at a time of their choosing… Yea buddy, we’re a classy bunch.

Thank God for “Sally”…

“Guys, listen to yourselves! Oh my God, do you have any idea what you are doing”?

Four dumbstruck faces (one with a D20 in their mouth)…

In unison: “What”?!

She shamefully covers her face and does her best to suppress a laugh, “never mind”…

Yea, we put the D20’s down and went back to gaming… So ladies, let this be a lesson to you… Men NEVER grow up. 9, 29, 39, 109… You dare us enough… We’ll do ANYTHING…

Even swallow a D20.

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