Episode 19: Lords of Waterdeep, Pathfinder MMO, Business Board Games, and Character Death

In episode 19, the founders dig into the recent Wizards of the Coast hit Lords of Waterdeep to bring you a walkthrough and review. Tony delivers to us news from the gaming world and we have a debate about the Pathfinder MMO technology demo project on Kickstarter. Then we tackle the topic of business board games suggested by one of our listeners. We cover the basics of what elements define a business board game, what makes a good business board game, and what business board games we are and...

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Episode Timeline

  • Lords of Waterdeep Walkthrough: 34:00
  • Lords of Waterdeep Review: 40:00
  • Gaming News with Tony Topper: 01:05
  • Pathfinder MMO Debate: 01:31
  • Business Board Games: 01:44
  • Death in Tabletop RPG's: 02:06

Opening Banter Topics:

    • The founders are on the way to Origins now! Except Chris who suffers from the Origins Curse.
    • The first person listener who catches us at Origins will receive a copy of Epic Spell Wars Duel At Mount Skullzfyre from Cryptazoic
    • Quarriors Quorlds Qualifiers will be held at Origins!
    • We'll be attending the D&D Next Playtest as well as the WotC D&D Next Q&A. We'll fill you in as much as we can based upon NDA's we have to sign.
    • The 30th Anniversary Edition of Survive: Escape from Atlantis will be released at Origins! Chris can't wait to pick it up.
    • We had a Secret Cabal Board Game Meetup at Comic Store West in York, PA and got an opportunity to meet some listeners. We also played Wiz War, The Resistance, and 7 Wonders. All in all a great evening. Thanks to those that attended and made it a great evening of gaming!
    • Rio Grande Games sent us some review copies to check out. Jamie got his hands on Pantheon and loved it. Brian took Loch Ness and played with sister's non-gamer family where it was a hit. Chris picked Genoa and he really liked it. The bidding system really brought out the greedy player in him.
    • Jamie went on vacation to the beach with his wife, bad weather left them hanging out in the hotel where they got many plays of Witch of Salem in. He was ecstatic when they finally won a game!
    • Diablo 3 released on May 15th! Computer gamers everywhere rejoice! Brian shares that he is entertained by the game but it's not an amazing game. The story is excellent but the gameplay can get repetitive quickly. There was a lot of drama over the game being online only, even for the single player playthrough. The real money auction house was pushed back to May 29th since the recording.
    • Tony went to a prerelease for Magic the Gathering. He came in third place and then went to the release event the following weekend where he spent $100 on cards for his constructed deck. The new set is Avacyn Restored, which includes a new mechanic Soul Bond.

Walkthrough and Review: Lords of Waterdeep

Waterdeep, the City of Splendors – the most resplendent jewel in the Forgotten Realms, and a den of political intrigue and shady back-alley dealings. In this game, the players are powerful lords vying for control of this great city. Its treasures and resources are ripe for the taking, and that which cannot be gained through trickery and negotiation must be taken by force!

Wizards of the Coast was even kind enough to put together a great tutorial video!


Gaming News with Tony Topper

Product Announcements /  Releases
Small World: Realms now available for pre-order! MSRP $35, estimated it will ship July 15
Quarriors! Quarmageddon Preview - Mischievous Imps! Careful they swarm!
Nothing Personal by Tom Vassal, renamed from Capo, will be appearing on Kickstarter this summer so keep your eye open for it. A first from Dice Tower Games!
Dungeon Command faction information released. Heart of Cormyr and Tyranny of Goblins teased! New duel decks announced for MtG: Izzet versus Golgari. Magic 2013 announced, which will release in August.
Fortress America announced! Looks big, $80 big. Over 300 detailed plastic figures big. Gotta love 80's games. Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition previews continue to be released! They're trickling information out constantly.
Mice and Mystics release date is August. MSRP $74.95, pre-order and receive $25 off and comes with promo cards!
Celebrate 30 years of Survive: Escape from Atlantis! 30th Anniversary Edition will be available at ORIGINS Game Fair, May 31-June 3 at the Stronghold Games booth! MSRP $39.99
  Kickstarter Projects Ending Soon Controversy over a successfully funded game from Soda Pop Miniatures called Tentacle Bento. Kickstarter bowed to public opinion and cancelled the project over rape innuendo akin. If you want to support Soda Pop Miniatures you can fund the project on their site. They've emulated the Kickstarter reward system and at this point have far exceeded their goal. Maybe all the negative press wasn't such a bad thing and now Kickstarter doesn't get a cut! Tammany Hall is a board game of backstabbing, corruption, alliances, and power at all costs! Comes with meeples with tophats! It is already successfully funded with ~2 weeks left to get in on the action! November is the estimated delivery.
Disaster Looms! This project is just shy of being funded, but if it is it should be available in September with a relatively quick turnaround. Not quite funded yet. Earth is going to be destroyed. Players take on the role of corporations to get colonists off of the planet and resettle them on nearby planets. If you're attending Origins you can get a demo play in.
Pathfinder Online Technology Demo is now up for backing on Kickstarter. It's a bit of a controversy amongst the founders as it's not actually going to result in a product that people get their hands on afterwards. I (Brian) misquoted the cost of Star Wars at $1.3 billion, it was actually around the $300 million mark. While I was just a tad off, the point I was trying to convey is that they need significantly more upfront cash to develop the mmo than a board game typically takes to fund.
Contests and Conventions

Business Board Games - What makes them fun?

Tony heads up a discussion on business board game and leads off with some of our favorite games that fit this category. Jamie has made the point in the past that Uwe Rosenburg games have an economic engine. As players we start with nothing and build up until a thriving economic machine gets going. From there we discuss why we consider various games business games or not, which varies dramatically between players. Chris shares that if the game is dry and boring it's a business game to him. Brian says that it's the theme that determines whether or not it's a business game to him. Tony says it depends whether the game makes him feel like a guy wearing a tophot and a monocle, then shouts out, "give me the juicy gold!" Jamie feels there has to be both mechanics and theme to him that has a business aspect to it. From there we discuss what makes a business game fun. Brian shares that if the theme doesn't entice him, the game is bland. Chris feels the same stating that's why he doesn't like Power Grid but why he does love Brass. He has no interest in being an energy tycoon, but loves the idea of being a railroad tycoon. Tony doesn't like really mathy games so games like Power Grid don't work well for him. Jamie says he needs to feel like he's doing something of value or he doesn't enjoy it. He also doesn't care much for Power Grid but he loves Factory Manager. For games to avoid, Acquire is very dry but it's also the quintessential business board game. The rest are going to depend very heavily on player taste. Many of them have similar mechanics or gameplay. Choose the theme that appeals to you as a player.

Character Death in Tabletop RPG's

Brian hosts a discussion on character death in tabletop RPG's. He starts off by asking the group when the last time their character died and how they felt about it at the time. Tony shares he doesn't believe that situation is ever going to be a good one but he hasn't ever had a tabletop character die. Jamie shares a tale about a character of his that died in a game Chris was running and that it wasn't a good experience. He felt bad because he was invested in the character and also he had to sit out the rest of the day making a new one. Chris also shares that the hopes and dreams he had for a character evaporate when his character dies, but that it's okay if the character dies when he accomplishes the goals he set. Particularly if it's a climactic ending. Brian agrees and shares a story about a cleric he played in a game run by Jamie and details how the character met his end. The death was meaningful to him and he was perfectly happy with the way the character's life ended. Tony shares that the role of a character in the party might be that of the Star Trek red shirt. Real life doesn't always result in everyone being the hero. Chris shares a hypothetical story: If we're reading a novel and it's exciting and the tension is mounting. If the ceiling collapses suddenly killing all the protagonists and the story ends he feels that's a terrible story. Jamie asks if it's acceptable to die only in meaningful combats, the climax of the story to which Chris responds that he's okay with that. Tony wants to be killed in the middle of the story, but have the awesome troll kill him. Jamie shares that character death is the most meaningful thing in a tabletop RPG. First it validates the choices a character makes and the poor choices of a character matter. Second there has to be a level of fear because otherwise players will feel like they are invincible. Brian agrees stating that he feels combat is boring and meaningless unless there is a risk of death. He cites that often times he'll modify fights on the fly because he scaled them poorly as a GM because he doesn't want to accidentally kill players through encounters being too challenging, but if a player makes bad choices such as being low on health and staying at the front lines that's on them. He continues to share that if there is no risk of death as a player he'd rather have the combat be completely narrative, though he says that's his personal preference and others enjoy mowing down a mass of weak creatures. The founders then delve into why they play tabletop games and how that impacts our view on the topic in general. Brian wants a challenge. Chris wants more of a narrative, with the story taking the forefront. Jamie wants a good blend of both. From there the founders discuss alternative methods to address the negative impact of character death. Tony recommends that players make a backup character during character creation to dilute the investment into a particular character. Jamie doesn't like that idea because he wants him to play the character as a human being and not make unrealistic risks because he has a backup. Brian shares that he has an idea to use for games where non-major combats result in semi-permanent injuries instead of death but major fights death is on the table. Jamie says he doesn't know if he likes that because he doesn't want to be a hindrance to the party. Brian asks which is better, character death due to a spike trap or an in-game injury due to a spike trap that the party failed to find? Jamie agrees with the latter example stating he likes to role-play temporary hindrances. The founders then discuss the merits of an injury system. In the end, the goal is to find the sweet spot for the party and even individual players. The game is about the enjoyment of everyone involved and while some folks are okay with character death in trivial combats, others are not.

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