Categotry Archives: Table Top Games

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Episode 70 – Interview with Jonathan Tweet

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Grandmother Fish
Grandmother Fish

We got another chance to interview Friend of the Hole and rockstar game designer Jonathan Tweet, whose magnificent book Grandmother Fish comes out today in his new deal with Macmillan. We’re going to the launch party at Ada’s Technical Books in Seattle on Saturday 9/10 from 10am-2pm, and you should too.

In the interview, we also got to talk a bit about Clades, a game Tweet is designing to teach evolution to kids and their adult companions. We played a bit of his early design and had a great time. We’ll let you know when he fires up that Kickstarter next month.

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PAX West 2016 Day One: We have to call it “PAX West” now.

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We’re back at PAX, which has finally succumbed to the reality of large, successful organizations and renamed itself “PAX West.” We’re super-psyched for the success of our favorite nerd show, but it was nice to experience Northwest privilege while it lasted. PAX Prime is dead, long live PAX West!

Other than that, the vibe and essence of the con haven’t changed, as far as we can tell. Everyone is still super-friendly, the scene feels super-inclusive, and the focus on fans and players is clear as day. They’ve put together something special for sure, and we’re grateful for all they do.

  • We swept through the Indie Megabooth, scouting it out for more focused time during the rest of the show. One very noticeable difference was the massive number of VR games available. This was also true of the main show floor, but it was fascinating to see that tech get adopted so quickly by small, scrappy devs. Rob tends to experience IRL nausea when he’s set up with VR, but Paul and Mary welcome the new hotness.
  • We may have more to say about this later, but we wanted to give a quick shout out to Open Sorcery, which is on display at the Indie Megabooth. It’s a text adventure that incorporates modern elements to damp down frustration (it’s based on Twine, which is a big help) (can we just take a moment to reflect on how great Twine is? Like really?). You are a magical being that is also a firewall protecting community sites from intrusion, which should send some of you straight into the Smile Zone. Maybe its premise is a little hard to explain, but it’s well worth a look—check it out free online. It’s also on iOS and Android if that works better for you.
  • Mary wandered into the Bethesda booth and was immediately mesmerized by the trailers, standing open-mouthed and staring for a very long time. You won’t be surprised to hear that we’re all really looking forward to the latest Fallout 4 DLC, Nuka World. We saw both the adorable animated trailer and the gameplay trailer, the highlight of the latter being feral ghouls getting run over with a roller coaster. We really want to do that.

  • When we walked up to Republic of Gamers’ booth and there were only three or four people waiting to play Minecraft on the Oculus, we were like, “Did this come out last year?” But no! It was just the magic of Friday. (And perhaps the distraction of the ridiculously huge ARK T-Rex across the way.) Minecraft VR is pretty much brand new—less so for Gear VR—and it is hell of fun. Our nine-year-old nerdling henchmen very excitedly said, one to the other, exactly what you might expect: “It’s like you’re in Minecraft, dude!” We talked to the nice RoG guy about the future of more and more games being VR ready, and the coding hurdles required in basically creating simultaneous tandem left-eye and right-eye renderings. He was partial to playing Project CARS on Oculus (games where your avatar is stationary, e.g. in a driver’s seat, are of course ideal for VR), and he said that Project CARS 2 will likely be built even more for that experience.

    Oculus Steve! #minecraftvr #paxwest2016 #meatspace #republicofgamers

    A video posted by Nerdhole Podcast (@nerdholistic) on

  • We have little experience with Dishonored, but the trailer for the sequel looks fantastic. In a very general way you could say that it’s steampunk-meets-Assassin’s Creed, but that’s not really doing it justice. Both the cinematic and the gameplay trailers show a neat mechanic that involves the player character turning into a smoky, ethereal form to sneak up on enemies and squeeze through tight spots. There’s architecture that literally folds up and transforms as you pass through it and an eerie conspiracy driving the plot. We’ll post more if we’re able to try out the demo.

  • Rob was intrigued and a little nostalgic about the trailer for the rebooted Prey, coming next year from Bethesda. It’s one of the first games he picked up for his Xbox 360, and it had some fascinating physical mechanics—like portals, a year before Valve’s Portal made us fall in love with magical door-like contraptions. It also gave a taste of social justice issues, as it starred Native American characters and used some kind of problematic Native American spirituality in what was basically a bug hunt. It turns out that the developers did a fairly decent job of reaching out to Native communities, and the protagonist is nothing like any stereotype we’ve ever seen. The new game is a “reimagining,” which could mean practically anything, but Rob will keep his eyes on it.
  • We were surprised to see that Blizzard had an entire booth dedicated to their brand-new World of Warcraft expansion, Legion. Blizzard makes relatively few appearances at PAX West, and generally it’s been well before an expansion drops. On the other hand, they’ve been working hard to make WoW even more accessible to new and returning players, and this is most likely part of that push. Mary will certainly have an entire post dedicated to Legion at some point since there’s plenty to say about it, but here’s the tl;dr: it has launched much more smoothly and with more fanfare than the last few expansions, so if you’re thinking about trying the WoW, now is a good time to do it.
  • We took a quick look at Yukon Salon, which was being touted in the board game zone by our podcast pal Andrew of A Podcast For All Intents and Purposes. It’s a fun-looking card game that involves (among other things) giving afros to miners and bears. More like BEARSTYLES, right? Anyway, there’ll be a Kickstarter coming your way in the very near future, and we’ll let you know when that goes live.
  • Our nine-year-old nerdling henchmen took us on a tour of Kaladesh, i.e., into the depths of a completely Magic’kd-up Paramount Theater to celebrate the debut of the new expansion. These were the highlights:
    IMG_9559For Seattle gamers who have probably seen everything from the Pixies to Soundgarden to Yo Gabba Gabba Live! here (we’re not judging), it’s exciting to see the Paramount all dolled up for one of our favorite games.
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    These guys were playing in the “Inventors’ League,” a free casual competition in which you grab a small deck (you pick your favorite color, plus a random one), put on a lanyard to identify your inventiveness to other Inventors, and then play five matches for a $2 discount on tourney play. There are many OP events (including 2HG, Mini-Master, and Deck-builder’s Toolkit Challenge) all weekend.
    IMG_9578
    Or you can simply bask in the Magic World Championship happening on center stage, with the top 24 players in the world playing quietly in the background and duking it out for $70K. The stage is also home to many great Magic panels and an M:tG improv show on Saturday night that we kind of can’t not go to. (Is “Yes, and…” an instant? I need the name of a planeswalker and an enchantment! We’re here all weekend, folks.)
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    You can also just stand in the lobby and fog up the glass looking at REAL LIVE KALADESH BOOSTERS!
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    Last but not least, follow Magic on Twitter to learn about how they’re giving away these over-sized cards from the new set several times a day. This one went to the first person to bring a “vehicle” (in this case, a Magic Carpet card) to the corner of 9th and Pine at the appointed time. BTW, even if you don’t have a PAX pass, the whole alley beside the Paramount will be bustling with Kaladesh madness that you can partake in starting at 10am every morning, including Kaladesh cosplayers, glass-blowing, and a build-your-own-ornithopter(!) area.

Check out previous years’ PAX coverage at the Stranger right here. We’re also posting tons of stuff on Instagram!

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Episode 66 – Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Inside, and Thunder Alley

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Plenty of nerd for everyone!
Plenty of nerd for everyone!

Hey, it’s a Nerdhole sampler! We talk about a cool, short book by Kai Ashante Wilson, the sweet new video game by the folks behind Limbo, and a board game that briefly made NASCAR seem interesting. And we managed to bust out an entire podcast without talking about television. Achievement unlocked!

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Episode 58 – Zombicide: Black Plague and Merged!

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Surrounded! Hopeless! How did this happen?
Surrounded! Hopeless! How did this happen?

Zombicide is the shambling, reanimated elephant in the room; it raised 11 zillion dollars on Kickstarter but, as far as Rob and Paul are concerned, it’s only okay. We discuss our feelings and what this phenomenon means to tabletop gaming, and then Mary shares her enthusiasm for a lovely little game called Merged! (Of course, game starts with “G” and that rhymes with “T” and that stands for “Triple Town,” so beware of pandas.)

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Episode 46 – Interview with Wade Rockett

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Wade Rockett eating lunch with an old friend
Wade Rockett eating lunch with an old friend

Do you want to get your game noticed–and, more importantly, purchased? We talked with game promoter extraordinaire Wade Rockett, who offered some fantastic advice to designers and publishers with comparatively shallow pockets. He’s full of charming stories about beloved indie game publishers like Kobold Press and Pelgrane Press, and we’re so glad he took the time to speak with us.

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Episode 41 – PAX Recap

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Eldrazi sculpture
[Tap]: Search your library for any number of nerd creatures and place them on the battlefield.
We’ve overcome our exhaustion and tech troubles to post our recap of this year’s PAX Prime. There was a lot to see and do–maybe too much? But we had a great time and are already prepping ourselves for next year.

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  • Nerdhole PAX Roundup, Day One: Paperback, Antihero, Cards Against Humanity, Brigador
  • Nerdhole PAX Roundup, Day Two: Mech Deck, Dark Echo, Ninja Tag, Tumblestone, From Light, Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked
  • Nerdhole PAX Roundup, Day Three: Lego Dimensions, Minecraft: Story Mode, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Mushroom 11, enfu
  • Nerdhole PAX Roundup, Day Four: Pleasant Dreams, Pit People
  • We have determined that the Mad Max game is in fact available for purchase. We do not recommend that purchase.
  • Rob has no idea where he heard that Indie Megabooth was considering doing its own show. If they are doing so, they’re keeping it quiet for now.
  • Castle Crashers Remastered is free on the Xbone until 9/20 if you own it on the 360.
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is now available on Xbone for $14.99 (and on Steam for Mac, PC, and Linux).

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Episode 40 – Interview with Jonathan Tweet

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Grandmother Fish
Grandmother Fish

We spoke with author and game designer Jonathan Tweet about his new book Grandmother Fish, which tells the story of evolution for pre-K kids. We also delved into his storied history as a game designer and got some terrific inside stories from his super-smart daughter Tessa.

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Ascension giga-drubbing

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Rob and I much love the deck-building game Ascension, as we have documented previously. Other fans of the game might like these screenshots from some transcendent multiplayer ridiculousness perpetrated by our friend Sean last night.

Final score: 32 to 47 to 89 to… 1,543. In Sean’s words:

Transformed Adayu the Serene…then Daybreak Askara to copy that hero, and copy it again since it’s Enlightened.  Three times the goodness for every card played…and many of them being multi-faction, so super-six goodness.  Ridiculous.  I started to wonder if there was some infinite loop thing I could get into after I cycled through the deck a second time.

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7 Wonders / Castle Panic: Wizard’s Tower – Episode 38

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7 Wonders and Castle Panic
Build it up and tear it down.

We eased up on the nerd a little this week and talked about a pair of tabletop games that can be fun for your less nerdy friends or kids. Paul and Rob adore 7 Wonders and its clever drafting mechanics, and then Paul goobs out over the expansion to Castle Panic called Wizard’s Tower–and even convinces Rob to give it a try despite his reservations about the base game.

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EXTRA CREDIT
If you really want to plumb the depths of the 7 Wonders Nerdhole, check out this 25K-word (no typo there) dissertation on strategy over on BoardGameGeek.

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This Giant Has Two Heads

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Mary and I played our first Magic tournament over the weekend–a Magic Origins prerelease hosted by Green Lake Games and using the beloved Two-Headed Giant format. Team play is terrific for less confident or socially anxious players, which nails the Nerdhole house style*. We had a great time–too great to remember to take pics, sadly.

It was, as Mary feared, pretty lopsided on the sausage end of the spectrum, but all our opponents were perfectly reasonable, charming, and friendly. Take that, stereotypes! Mary’s deck went all-in on elves with a bunch of neato-scary black and green, while I slapped together a blue and white deck that I hoped could last long enough to throw down some flying bruisers in the endgame. We…didn’t do so well. We did win one of our four games, but that wasn’t enough to score a prize. It was enough to bolster our confidence, though, and I reckon we’ll likely be playing more of these in the future. Go Team Nerdhole!

Big thanks to Friends of the Hole Brian, who organized our outing and provided much-needed moral support, and Mike, who offered cunning strategic advice. They rocked two victories–but were gracious enough not to remind us that they had basically played the same decks as us while they opened their prize boosters.

* Paul may actually be a smooth criminal on the tourney floor, for all I know. Time will tell.

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