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Episode 14: Civilization the Board Game, Underrepresented Games and Our Thoughts on Savage Worlds

In episode 14, the gang sits down to have a discussion and review of  the Fantasy Flight edition of Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game. Then they answer a listener's question about playing an RPG with only a GM and single player.  Tony brings you all the juicy news from the gaming world.  The founders have a conversation about the different kinds of games that are underrepresented in the gaming industry and what they'd like to see. Jamie gives a quick...

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Episode Timeline:

  • Civilization the Board Game Walkthrough: 00:34
  • Civilization the Board Game Review: 00:50
  • RPGs with a GM and a Single Player: 01:23
  • Gaming News with Tony Topper: 01:52
  • Underrepresented Games: 02:21
  • Miniatures Painting Primer: 02:25
  • Our Thoughts on Savage Worlds: 02:35

Opening Banter Topics:

  • Thanks for all the submissions for our Munchkin giveaway. Every single one of them are great topic suggestions. Currently there's not much competition on the twitter suggestions.
  • Since last episode, we've all come down with acquisition disorder for Malifaux. Last week we played a learning game and the found most of the mechanics similar to other miniatures games but they tweaked the rules so everything has a unique feel. The rules and the unit cards are both available for download free.
  • Chris complained about the lack of updates for Zong Shi last episode and then received it in the mail a few days after the episode aired. He was very happy with the quality of the game, stating it has the best components of every game he's purchased.
  • Jamie talks about the first game on Kickstarter that he decided to back, Fleet. It's a light euro style card game where you buy boats, hire captains, and send them out to fish.
  • Brian got his hands on Mass Effect 3 and raves about how awesome it is. Without revealing any plot, he explains he really enjoyed how they did a great job wrapping up old plot from the first two, how the story is very compelling, and was extremely happy about the mini-games throughout. He specifically avoided discussing the fiasco about the ending of the series.
  • Chris talks about playing older games, he got Final Fantasy Tactics for iOS and he loves it, which leads to the founders talk about game nostalgia and discuss old games that they still love. In specific, they talk about X-Com and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.
  • Jamie got two games of Duel in the Dark in and was very pleased at how it played out and the depth of strategy in the game.
  • Chris, Jamie, and Brian got a play of Red November in. Brian explains his first play through was relatively easy. Jamie explains that luck of the draw can make these types of co-op games very easy to impossible. Brian complains that the icons on the card doesn't match the icons on the board that represent events that the players need to work together to resolve.
  • From there the founders share they had a 4 player game of Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game and we step right into the review.

Walkthrough and Review: Civilization: The Board Game

In Civilization: The Board Game, 2-4 players take on the roles of famous leaders in charge of historical civilizations, each with their own abilities. Players will be able to explore a module game board, build cities and buildings, fight battles, research powerful technology, and attract great people by advancing their culture. No matter what your play style is, there is a civilization for you! Fans of Sid Meier’s classic video game franchise will find familiar footing in Civilization: The Board Game. Staying true to the foundations of its video game predecessor while creating a new and unique way to play, Civilization: The Board Game captures the spirit and grandeur of carving out a magnificent empire from modest beginnings. Players start off with a single city, one army figure, and one scout, and from these meager origins you must forge through the ages and become the greatest civilization in the world. Check it out on Board Game Geek!

RPGs with a GM and a Single Player

We received an email from Eric Woning who is an avid fan of tabletop, and he wanted to know if we thought it was a good idea to play an RPG with a GM and a single player. We wanted to take a moment to address his question. Brian starts off by sharing his experiences running sessions with just a single player stating that it's much easier to meet expectations and entertain one player. Chris feels it can be very rewarding, expressing that combat should take a back seat in this type of game-play. He feels single player games should be very story-driven, something similar to White Wolf Vampire style games. Tony agrees with Chris, emphasizing that mechanical game-play isn't going to be as important as having a good story. Jamie agrees that storytelling can be played up but that combat doesn't have to take a backseat, that depends on whether the other player is into heavy combat or not. If the player is into lighter fare Mouseguard is a good choice of a setting, or if they're into dark lone wolf style games a Solomon Kane style story is an excellent choice. Jamie expresses that scheduling a game can be much easier, particularly when playing with a SO, as you can run a game off the cuff on any given night. Brian shares that with an audience of one the most important aspect of the game is to ensure that the GM focuses on the elements of the game that the player enjoys. He shares that if game mechanics aren't the focus of the player that combat can be done as a narrative without dice, with movie style cinematic resolutions. While all having slightly differing opinions on the topic, we all agree that if you both enjoy tabletop, a game with 1 player can be just as rewarding as a game with a full group. We welcome any questions from our listeners. If there's a particular question you'd like us to answer on the air, feel free to email us at founders@thesecretcabal.com, post it on our facebook page, and we'll address it on our next show!

Gaming News with Tony Topper

  • Wizards of the Coast has announced the Dungeon Survival Handbook. Typical fare for a sourcebook with a medley of information for dungeon crawling.
  • Dreadfleet Captains, a print on demand expansion for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game, is now available! Priced at $9.95.
  • Wizards of the Coast has announced another From the Vault printing for Magic the Gathering. This one is called Realms and features land cards from various older expansions. MSRP $34.99 with a release date of August 31, 2012.
  • Fantasy Flight announced Olympus, a Grecian city-state game euro style game. Expected release second quarter of 2012. MSRP $59.95.
  • Also by Fantasy Flight, Sky Traders, a board game for 2-5 players, expected late second quarter 2012 with an MSRP of $49.95.
  • WizKids announced a relaunch of Pirates of the Spanish Main, details are rather vague at this point whether it's going to be identical to the original or whether it's just going to be a standard card game.
  • News on a new Kickstarter project, Zpocalyse: An Epic Zombie Survival Board Game.
  • Games Workshop pre-order available for Chaos Hellcannon now in Citadel Finecast. "Due to high demand, each Citadel Finecast product is limited to five (5) per customer."
  • Lords of Waterdeep has been released by Wizards of the Coast. A euro style game with a D&D theme that was on the Board Game Geek hotness list.
  • Spartan Games released the Dystopian Wars Master Rulebook, Edition 1.1
  • 24 hours of voting are available on April 2nd for the Crystal Brush. The first place prize for this painting competition is $10,000. Qualifiers were held at previous conventions so it's not open for admission at this point.
  • Closing soon on Kickstarter: Admiral o' the High Seas - Naval Adventures for Pathfinder and 4E, Day of the Dead, Gunship: First Strike!, Building an Elder God, and GameChips.
  • Upcoming Conventions: PAX East 2012 April 6-8 in Boston (RPG and Video games), AdeptiCon April 19-22 Chicago (miniatures), and Gen Con 2012 August 16-19 in Indianapolis with an Official Call for Volunteers!

Underrepresented Games

There is a huge saturation of specific types of games, whether based on popular themes or mechanics. Zombie themes are extremely oversaturated. Jamie shares that since Dominion there have been a ton of games that have come out that are deck building with a twist. Chris is tired of "living card games" that are just variants of collectible card games with all their expansions. Brian is getting tired of games with victory points that have endings that doesn't actually feel like someone wins. Jamie talks about Rome and Egypt themes are very popular. Brian mentions civilization style games that they can't seem to get the play time down into a good 2 hour window consistently, citing Through the Ages and Civilization: The Board Game. After having this mini-discussion about things that over-saturate the market, we decided to list off things we'd love to see developed... Chris's List
  • A Gothic horror themed resource production game, conceptually like Witch of Salem, we joke about Agricola with zombie meeples as game that appeals to Chris
  • A Shadowrun or cyberpunk style dungeon crawl based game
  • A sequel to the computer game Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
Brian's List
  • Le Havre, Civilization: The Board Game, some of those heavier games that only take 2 hours to play with a full game so it appeals to a broader audience and is easier to break for a play through. Cites the elegance of 7 Wonders but wants that experience in a board game
  • The Firefly theme pasted over Merchants and Marauders, willing to pay someone to do this! Jamie recommends Brian keep an eye out for Merchants of Venus
  • A story based game like Mansions of Madness, Betrayal at House on the Hill, but cityscape based on Vampire the Masquerade or traditional Gothic horror with good mechanics
Jamie's List
  • More hybrid euro-ameritrash games, cites Stronghold as a great example as well as Wallenstein and Shogun
  • More revolutionary war or colonial period themed games (good ones!)
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill done right, with good components and rules that aren't broken
Tony's List
  • Better themes for euro games, citing Caylus where the theme is abstract and doesn't appeal to everyone
  • A vampire game that appeals to him, not Twilight vampires, Nightfall doesn't do it for him
  • Settlers of Catan to saturate the market and replace Monopoly at Toys-R-Us, Target, and Walmart, bad US games need to go away and the staple household American game needs to be euro/ameritrash games
If any of our listeners have recommendations to fit the bill of what we're looking for, please contact us on Facebook or email us at founders@thesecretcabal.com!

Miniatures Painting Primer

Jamie hosts another segment of "And now you know!" to share some tips on the basics to painting. The #1 thing that keeps people from painting their miniatures over time is having a dedicated station for painting miniatures. If you have the luxury of having space to dedicate to painting so that you don't have to pack up and put everything away just to drag it all back out again later, that will make painting less of a hassle for future sessions. It's extremely important to have good lighting. Enough about environment, onto the less boring parts of the project. For painting materials, Citadel Paint Pots and P3 by Privateer Press, and the Reaper Master series are the recommended starting paints. Buying cheap apple barrel acrylic paints is going to show later. If you're looking to save money instead of buying low quality paint, buy one model, decide on a color scheme, and just buy the paint you need to finish that model. Good base colors to start with are a black, white, bleach bone, blue, red, and brown. For paintbrushes, Citadel paintbrushes are a little more expensive and aren't any better than craft store brushes. Buy 3 different types of brushes. The first one is a spotter, a very fine brush good for detail painting. Get one about twice as large with a flat side for base coating. You can also do larger area washes with it. The third one is a little larger that can be flat or round, to be used for dry brushing. This is going to be ruined and will only be useful for dry brushing. When buying this brush you can cheap out  a little bit but make sure you tug on the bristles a bit in the store. If the bristles come out, discard it and find something else. There are two things you cannot do without. You want to get a spray primer and a mat finish. The spray primer you prime your plastic or metal models with so the surface is porous and the paint sticks. If you don't do this, the paint will rub off. Army Painter primer is the same as the Citadel but is less expensive. Armory with munchkin art on the can is garbage. Avoid this. You can prime in black or white, Army Painter has a myriad of colors. I always do black but a lot of people swear by white. After painting the models you want to put a matte finish on the model. If you don't do this the oil on your fingers will get on the model and weaken the paint, eventually causing the paint to rub off and it will look really bad over time. All of the same companies that make primers make mat finishes as well. Army Painter matte finishes make the model look dull, Citadel is much better. But I use Krylon matte finish. The Krylon says matte finish but it has a little bit of a gloss and brings out the colors. If you like the glossier look, Krylon is the way to go but use it sparingly but ensure you get a complete cover. This last part is personal preference. A lot of people don't like the glossier look. Experiment and find something that suits your particular tastes. When searching youtube for tutorials, the best tutorials are on dry brushing. Put paint on your brush, wipe almost all the paint off on a paper towel. Then rub the brush quickly and vigorously across the model. This ensures that the raised areas on the model get the color and the recessed areas stay dark. Ensure that you check these tutorials out as it's easy to get wrong if you leave too much paint on the brush. Another easy method to beginner painting is using a wash. It's a thin and inky paint that requires additional purchases. As an example, after you're finished painting if you have a model with a trench cloak with wrinkles in it, you dip the brush into the wash and get it soaked, then you wash the paint over the back of the model. The thin paint starts to puddle in the wrinkles. When it dries it will be dark in the recesses and light on the outside. You need to watch a tutorial if you haven't seen this technique used before as it's very easy to get wrong. Additional base purchases should include an exacto hobby knife and superglue, I use guerrilla glue. When you take the models out of the original packaging there's going to be flashing on them, little bits of metal or plastic left over after the casting or plastic injection process. The higher the quality of the model the less flashing they typically have. Take the exacto hobby knife and scrape down all the edges and cut off all the flashing. Then glue the model together and then glue the model to the base. Before you actually prime the model, most people will want to put some basing on the base. The simplest way to do this is go to the local pet store and get sand for an aquarium. It's extremely cheap and works just as well as anything else. Put big goops of superglue on the base of the model and use a toothpick to push it around for an even spread across the base, ensure you don't get any on the feet of the model. Then just dip it into the sand, pull it out and knock off an excess. Use the other end of the toothpick to clean up the edges of the base or remove any sand from the feet of the model. Once that dries you can prime. The primers mentioned previously dry in about 15 minutes. The actual paint dries almost on contact though you may need to give it a few minutes. The spray primers mentioned dry in about 15 minutes as well. That's it! You are done! There are probably a hundred different ways out there and through experience you'll find your own ways. I hope you find it a rewarding hobby. Good luck!

Our Thoughts on Savage Worlds

The founders went into Savage Worlds with the expectation that it was a lighter rule set than 4E and wanted to take a look back at their experiences and compare them to 4E, Shadowrun, and other games. Brian shares that he's not certain that the rule set is really that much simpler, while Jamie feels the rule set is much lighter than 4E. Brian discusses the time spent on combat versus the time spent in 4E as a comparison of how much lighter the rules actually are, though he explains that the founders are using things that bog down combat duration such as inch based movement and the card based initiative system. Jamie agrees, but states that the simplicity of the skills system is the big time saver and how much more free form the play is. Chris shares his opinion that 4E is more complex in how it has a predefined set of abilities that are used but the combat isn't actually role played. Jamie expresses that right now the group is still stuck in the mindset, though it's getting better, that combat is more than just "I attack" in a Savage Worlds game. In particular when a player asks how they do something that's skill based, he feels that it's much easier and organic as opposed to being heavy rules based. Tony states that he feels the rules system doesn't feel much different from 4E. He does, however, really like the Savage World method of doing multiple actions. Jamie references Shadowrun and how each the rules were so convoluted and how he just couldn't wrap his mind around the myriad of specific systems in Shadowrun, whereas Savage World really appeals to him. Brian expresses that character creation in Savage Worlds is more akin to the the character creation in World of Darkness and is much more fun for him. It feels much more focused on the story and less on mechanical advantages. Jamie agrees and goes on to say that even leveling in 4E isn't fun to him. Tony states that he does the same thing Jamie does in 4E for leveling but he does find it fun. Jamie states that ignoring our play styles, the mechanics are much more organic and that lighter or heavier doesn't really mean as much to him when discussion whether he's enjoying the system. Chris shares that Shadowrun went to the far end of the spectrum in defining rules for every single system. Brian asks Jamie to describe how much time he spends making the game, in specific the stuff for combat. Jamie states that it takes him 10 minutes to make a combat which is much faster than 4E. Brian explains that from the GM side of the fence that is vastly different from his experiences with 4E in that creating encounters takes a significant amount of time, particularly using the online tools for creating encounters and scaling monsters. Tony adds that maybe the designers don't want the canon changed to that degree so that scaling predefined monsters may not be something the developers want GM's to do. Jamie shares that he uses that extra time to develop the environment and setting of the combat which he couldn't do in 4E. Brian asks if anyone is experiencing rules that they're not happy with. Tony doesn't feel there is anything that he's finding that's working differently than he's expected. Jamie agrees and expresses he's pretty happy with the rules thus far. Brian shares that he hates games that provide a variety of options, but most of those options are just bad mechanically (i.e. grappling, disarming, etc). Jamie states that he feels building a character that's good at those things is possible in Savage Worlds. Overall, everyone is pretty happy with the change, feeling that it's a lateral shift with a larger focus on the things that suit our particular gamer play styles.

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