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Terra Mystica ISSUE 1 US $5.99

March 2013

Grand Theft Auto should Steal July

July is the next goldmine.


t was only a few years ago that there was only one window in which to release an extremely high-profile, triple-A “killer-app” video game. You know, the kind of game that is not simply a game, but one of the games coming out that year. The kind that sells consoles and gets the “mainstream” occasional gamer back on the couch. They always came out during the fall and more often than not were specifically released in November during the rush of holiday shopping. In a way, this made sense. Video games grew out of the toy industry, and toy companies make most of their money during the lucrative holiday quarter when moms and dads everywhere were busy splurging money for goodies for their kids. By 2007 the video game industry had long grown out of the shadow of toys; at the same time, they had already been firmly established as an entertainment medium that wasn’t just for kids, but also had something to offer to adults. Despite this, the fall quarter–and especially the month of November–remained the Holy Grail of video game launch windows. If your game mattered more than any other game that year, you were launching in November. Despite huge competition from games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the biggest name on the calendar in the fall of 2007 was Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto IV, the high-definition debut of

the franchise that massacred most industry sales records during the PS2/Xbox/GameCube era. Then, something incredible happened; GTA IV was delayed and its release pushed into the second quarter of 2008 (specifically April). It was somewhat unheard of at the time; surely Rockstar was better off holding their chips for the 2008 holiday season rather than releasing in the middle of spring, right? Well, that April release date didn’t appear to have much negative effect on GTA IV‘s sales, which gave publishers an epiphany: they could skip the claustrophobic, highlycompetitive fall window and simply launch their big-name title in Q1 or Q2 when there would be decidedly less competition for advertising attention, gaming time, and gamers’ increasingly limited funds in an increasingly expensive hobby. Gaming was now big enough that launching in January or March or May no longer meant getting lost in the pop culture shuffle. Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire both released in the month of May and this year’s Max Payne 3 continued that trend.

Rockstar can once again be an industry trend-setter



Grand Theft Auto 5 Elder Scrolls Online


D&D Next


Reviews Dragonborn DmC The Cave Sir Hammerlocks Big Game Hunt Fire Emblem Awakening

Reviews Terra Mystica

15 16 17 18 19


MTG - Gatecrasher


Legends of Andor




Elder Scrolls Online The MMO we have all waited for.


Developer - ZeniMax Online Studios Publisher - Bethesda Softworks Director - Matt Firor Series - The Elder Scrolls Engine - Custom Platforms - Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX Release date - 2013 Genre - Massively multiplayer online role-playing game, open world


et 1000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online will span most of the continent of Tamriel, which includes more famous provinces like Skyrim, Cyrodiil and Morrowind. You’ll be able to take on standard quests, dive into public dungeons combat system at the level cap for control of the Emperor’s throne in Cyrodiil. Starting off, you’ll choose to play as one of three factions, each comprised of three of The Elder Scrolls’ species. The Nords, Dark Elves and Argonians form the Ebonheart Pact, the High Elves, Wood Elves and Khajiit are bound together as the Aldmeri Dominion, and The Daggerfall Covenant i n c l u d e s the Bretons, Redguard and Orcs. Each faction will have unique questing content, so if you decide to replay as a different faction, you won’t have to complete the exact same set of tasks all over again. The game will be class-based, so you can’t just jump in and start developing your character

Develope your character however you want like you can in Skyrim.

however you want like you can in Skyrim. ZeniMax Online isn’t revealing the exact classes yet, but from the sounds of things there’ll be a rogue-type class, a healer, a damage-focused caster, an archer and a fighter, all of which fit to some degree into the traditional healer / tank / damage-per-second categories of traditional MMOs, but ZeniMax Online stresses that though healing is a big part of the game, you won’t necessarily need a dedicated healer to clear all group content. Outside of combat you’ll be able to tweak your skill bar, which determines your available abilities. Two of the skill slots will change depending on your equipped weapon, you can add in a few classspecific skills, and the final skill slot is an ultimate. Triggering your ultimate requires a certain reserve of finesse, which builds as you accomplish special tasks in battle. By working together with friendly players you can create skill combos, where a mage class can light an oil slick laid down by a rogue class on fire, or a fighter class can apparently spin kick fireballs from within a carpet of flame laid down by a mage. You can also perform special actions like interrupting

casted spells or using shields, twohanded weapons or magic to block incoming attacks to build finesse, encouraging you to take advantage of advanced combat actions whenever possible. For questing, ZeniMax Online will make use of phasing like in Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, where the world around you will change after completing certain quest objectives. There’ll be plenty to explore across Tamriel, encouraging you to search without specific quest goals and discover hidden caves and rewards. That being said, there’ll still be plenty of structured content, including instanced dungeons as well as public dungeons, which will feature similar content but can be accessed by anyone. For end game content you’ll get heroic versions of instanced dungeons, raids, as well as an open world player versus player combat system. The three factions will fight for control of terrain surrounding the Imperial City in Cyrodiil. Across the province will be capturable forts, castles and farms, and you can either charge to the front lines of battle or hang back and fire siege weaponry to bust up the walls of some of the more heavily fortified capture points. Once your faction is into the Imperial City, you’ll find the streets will be full of enemies, and once the roads are cleared a new emperor will be crowed based on which player contributed most to the war effort. Your faction’s success in Cyrodiil’s PvP areas will confer factionwide bonuses, but being crowned emperor will simply be for personal pride, and will not reward some godlike temporary power or items. The familiar guilds of The Elder Scrolls, including the Dark Brotherhood, Fighters Guild, Thieves Guild and Mages Guild, will all be in the game, but ZeniMax

Online isn’t talking about all of them quite yet. At least for the Fighters and Mages Guilds you’ll be able to perform tasks in the world to boost reputation and eventually unlock rewards in the form of abilities. As you quest and level you’ll be able to craft items and acquire mounts, but you won’t be able to own property. ZeniMax Online also mentioned that while werewolves and vampires are in the game, you can’t actually transform into either of those creatures. While Bethesda Game Studios, the developer of the single-player Elder Scrolls games, is not creating The Elder Scrolls Online, they are consulting on aspects such as lore accuracy. Aside from that, though, all decisions about content creation are being handled within ZeniMax Online Studios. The Elder Scrolls Online is scheduled to launch some time in 2013 for PC and Mac.

The world around you will change after completing certain quest objectives. 3

5 Reasons Why The Elder Scrolls Online Will Rule 2013 5) The User Interface

In The Elder Scrolls Online, players will have a minimal amount of icons on-screen. You’ll use your small selection of skills on-screen, and level them up by using them. You don’t have to worry about paying a trainer to level up a skill that you might someday, possibly use. You level up what you use, and whatever else is in that small

4) Massive World 4

Elder Scrolls games are known for being massive, and this game is incorporating the entire continent of Tamriel, meaning the game will be so big there are no words to describe it. With so many place to visit, explore, and adventure through, The Elder Scrolls Online is

3) Massive World

Elder Scrolls games are known for being massive, and this game is incorporating the entire continent of Tamriel, meaning the game will be so big there are no words to describe it. With so many place to visit, explore, and adventure through, The Elder Scrolls Online is

2) The Combat

You engage in combat in this game much like you engage in combat in Skyrim – in real time. You click your mouse to use y our weapon, and depending on how well you aimed, you will hit or miss your target. The more successful you are at attacking, and even dodging

1) The Freedom

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be an Elder Scrolls game if you couldn’t play the game the way you wanted. You want to take a race that is predominantly known for being an archer and turning him into a two-handed sword warrior? Go ahead! Maybe you start the game as a sword and board kinda guy, but decide you’d rather switch to archery. Don’t worry about finding someone who will do a skill re-speck for you, just switch! The way the leveling system in this game is designed, any player can use any weapon at any time, so there’s no reason to get rid of the epic axe you just found, even if you think you probably can’t use it. In this game, you can. Additionally, you don’t have to follow linear quest

hotbar at the time. This is such a great idea, and it’s one that will hopefully going a long way towards keeping players in the game, and not being distracted by what skills they need to put where, and in what order to use them. Just go kill something!

prepared to offer players years of entertainment. In fact, the scale of the game is said to be even larger than that of existing games, meaning as big as Skyrim is in its current form, it will be even bigger online.

prepared to offer players years of entertainment. In fact, the scale of the game is said to be even larger than that of existing games, meaning as big as Skyrim is in its current form, it will be even bigger online.

attacks, you will build up “finesse” points, which you’ll be able to apply to a power move of sorts. Once you deliver this killer blow, you can begin refilling your finesse points and use the move again.

paths to make progress in the game. Maybe you don’t even want to quest at all? That’s ok! Just head off on an adventure all your own, hunting wildlife, bandits, and who knows what else. You can spend your time in-game any way you want, and you’re not punished for doing so. You’ll still be able to level, you’ll still be able to PvP, and you’ll still be able to hop in with your friends at any time as well. This game will not restrict you in that sense, and players will be wise to spend some time on their own, just seeing what Tamriel has to offer.



Grand Theft Auto V

Back to the west coast



Developer(s) - Rockstar North Publisher(s) - Rockstar Games Distributor(s) - Take-Two Interactive Writer(s) - Dan Houser Engine - RAGE Euphoria Platform - PlayStation 3 Xbox 360 Release date - Q2 2013 Genre(s) - Action-adventure, open world Mode(s) - Single-player, multiplayer

here is almost too much to take in - that’s the overriding response. GTA V is a game about three disparate career criminals taking on a series of heists in Los Santos. It is a game where you can switch at will between the three leads, you can go anywhere, seemingly do anything. For the last month, gamers everywhere have been rifling through the available information, constructing for themselves what they hope the end result will be. Can a single title bear this much weight of expectations? It can if it thinks about design in a new way. And that’s what we reckon the latest GTA does. There’s a chance this thing will hint at the coming era of interactive entertainment. There’s a chance GTA V will be the first real nextgeneration game.

leading into the dense downtown area, and on to the sun-baked Santa Maria beach, with its muscle men, beach babes and assorted weirdos. Then the map extends outwards, taking in the diverse Southern Californian countryside; the mountains, the deserts, the weird Salton City, mostly abandoned in the 70s and a suitably messed up home for the game’s most psychotic character, Trevor. It’s all explorable from the outset, and Rockstar North has learned a vital lesson from Red Dead Redemption; that an environment only works when it feels alive. Indeed, producer Leslie Benziesrecently said: “We had a lot of the North team working on RDR and LA Noire, which allowed us to gain experience of other projects and how to solve problems and use them within the new game engine we’ve created for V.” “GTA V will tell us about how game stories are going to be told in the future” Hence, it seems that both the ecosystem and the dynamic mission encounters have been bought over and evolved from that game. Players will encounter stranded motorists, hitchhikers and redneck misfits, spawning new side-quests on the fly. Open world games have always hinted in this direction, but

The key isn’t the size, it’s the variety and detail

Big country It is there in the sheer scale of the environment, of course. We’ve all heard the high concept pitch:GTA V is big enough to swallow GTA: San Andreas, GTA IV and Red Dead Redemptionwhole. But the key isn’t the size, it’s the variety and detail. Los Santos itself has become a sprawl of neighbourhoods, with the luxurious Rockford Hills

populating large worlds with fun things is going to be a key concern in the next-gen era. As gamers demand ever larger environments, developers will begin to rely upon procedural generated landscapes, in which maps are effectively designed by the computer, based on parameters and algorithms set by the coders and artists. These places will need to be filled with smart AIs capable of reacting to player behaviours and generating insta-missions, without someone on the dev team having to write a script first.

then into another, taking up their story wherever they are. In this way, each player is going to effectively edit their own story, catching bits and pieces of the cut-scene action, becoming filmmakers. Benzies has said that the way each gamer makes these “tactical and organic choices” will really shape the game. That’s true in missions too; each characters has his own friends, his own skills - major tasks will usually involve at least two of them taking on different roles. In the raid on the government building that The Guardian was shown, Michael does the action, while Trevor flies the chopper and Franklin covers with a sniper rifle. Weapons, like vehicles, will all be in the world from the start, but players will need cash and the right connections to build their arsenal and access the meatier stuff. This is a game about money everything is for sale. We’ll also see how secondary characters react differently to the main protagonists: what happens when Trevor or Franklin stumble into Michael’s mansion-lined district? Dan Houser says the story is really going to play on these fish-outof water scenarios. It’s also clear that

You will be able to swap between these wise guys when you like

Three Two One On top of that, it looks very much as though GTA V is going to tell us about how game stories will be told in the future. Forget about one linear strand taking us through from beginning to middle to end. GTA V has three protagonists remember - retired bank robber, Michael, drug-addled psycho Trevor and young repo kid, Franklin - and their stories will intertwine as we progress. “Here we have three protagonists interacting throughout the game,” Benzies told IGN. “This is something we touched upon with the intersecting stories of Nico, Johnny and Luis in GTA IV, but we have now made this integral to the structure of the gameplay as well as the narrative.” More interestingly, you’re able to swap between these wise guys when you like, zooming out of one, into a sort of Google Maps view,

the relationship between the three hoods is going to be central to the action. GTA IV got you to hang out with a whole roster of gangland scumbags. Here, it seems to be about this central threesome, although Michael has a wife and kids, and it looks like these will be providing the comic relief Character is the focus, not plot.


Deep Heat


Indeed, the whole sense of linearity is being broken down. GTA V doesn’t build toward a single climax, it is structured around a series of major heists, with sub-missions leading up to and feeding off them. You get the feeling that while Vice City looked toward the dot-to-dot hyper-violence of Scarface and Miami Vice, GTA V is much more like Michael Mann’s Heat, a deeper, more nuanced experience - but with a whole bunch of shooting thrown in for good measure. And here’s an important thing; while Niko’s story was about killing, GTA V is about cash, about greed and adrenaline, and that changes the tone and the mission design. Speaking to IGN, Dan Houser said these guys are focused much more on money and robbery. “ T h e y can do the robberies in different

kinds of ways and have a lot of choice over the things they do.” Again, this is a glimpse at how game design is likely to mature, taking us away from the signposted corridors of Uncharted and on from the more thoughtful arenas of Dishonored andFar Cry 3. Verticality also seems to be much more important in this game. You’ve always been able to access rooftops and clamber up hillsides in GTA, but now, perhaps inspired by upstarts like Batman and Assassin’s Creed, GTA V is more subtly layered than its predecessors. The mission press have seen involves Michael being lowered from a chopper and rappelling down the side of a skyscraper for a raid on a government agency. And then we also have a mountain range, miles of sky to fly through and an explorable ocean. Will there be a submarine mission? It’s unlikely Rockstar would have modelled the sea floor just so players could go scuba diving if they felt like it. “While Niko’s story was about killing, GTA V is about cash”

Space Exploration But then, doing things when you feel like it is a vital element of the GTA experience, and Rockstar knows it. Here you’ll be able to play golf and tennis, ride quad-bikes, do a triathlon. Explore, live. “Games are very geographical,” said Houser to The Guardian.

“They present space almost better than they present time, and we try to use that, to showcase variety between different landscapes. It’s this idea of a digital holiday: being able to explore spaces that don’t really exist is one of the things that’s fascinating about open world games. It’s not just about doing the activities we’ve set, there’s also a sense of being there”. Quite possibly, hidden among all this talk about freedom are some subtle clues about the online modes in GTA V. With Red Dead, Rockstar introduced its concept of Free Roam multiplayer where players could get together in gangs and explore the whole environment. GTA V will surely build on this. It’s almost certain we’ll see co-op heists, maybe against other players as security guards. We’re sure there will be elements of EA’s Auto- and Battlelog social systems, allowing

players to make connections between each other’s game worlds. But the big things are likely to be persistence and scope. Next-gen games may move on from the limited Team Deathmatch format of current online modes; GTA V might suggest that, allowing small squads of players to engage in longer form quests and narrative adventures. Houser hinted at something in his Guardian profile: “This game, if we get it right, will be a step toward some kind of organic living soap opera.” Perhaps that ambition will inform multiplayer too. The next generation of gaming will be less about formula and structure and more about freedom and personalisation. GTA V is not there, of course, it’s still sitting in this generation even though its very possible that, as at least a new Xbox is due at the end of 2013, an updated

edition may well be released. Even if it isn’t, with its emphasis on multiple characters, a less linear story, and a freer environment, it has things to say about the future. And what it says is this: the future of game design isn’t about us, it’s about you.

Phil Collins did voice work for Grand Theft Auto Grand Theft Auto has been sued for nearly $1 billion Grand Theft Auto games offer more than 200 side missions


D&D Next Legends & Lore A new year is a good time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. To begin, I’d like to walk you through the basic goals of D&D Next. Starting with this column and continuing on through the next few installments, I’ll cast a light on the goals behind our work. > To start with, here are our two guiding principles. These ideas guide everything we do. > Create a version of D&D that embraces the enduring, core elements of the game. > Create a set of rules that allows a smooth transition from a simple game to a complex one. > So what do these mean in detail? Well, read on.

The Core Elements of D&D Over the years, the D&D tabletop RPG has undergone several dramatic revisions. The rules for the game today look very little like the game of 6 years ago, or the game of 15 years ago, or the game of 25 years ago. That’s an outlier in the world of tabletop games. Although plenty of games introduce new content, such as a new set of cards for a TCG or a new unit for a miniatures game, few games rebuild their core rules from the ground up. Changing the rules of a game in a fundamental way creates rifts within your community. There are the obvious gaps between people who play a new version and those who stick with the old one, but there are more subtle issues at work. Someone who stopped playing your game 10 years ago and wants back into it must start over from scratch. Why go back to a familiar game if you find out that it isn’t really familiar anymore?

So, the first big picture goal is to make a version of D&D that speaks to the recognizable elements of the game. Anyone who played D&D in the past, even decades ago, should be able to step into D&D Next with ease. D&D Next must provide a home for the variety of play styles supported across the history of D&D, with rules terms and procedures that D&D players recognize and understand. What that actually means will be covered in part two, but the design implication is that D&D Next should deliver the primary strengths that each edition brings to the table. If an edition was good at something, D&D Next needs to do a good job of providing it.

Smooth Transitions To talk about D&D and complexity, we have to start by thinking about new players. Do a lot of new people try D&D every year? Yes. In fact it attracts far more people than you would guess. The real strength of D&D has always been in its ability to pull in new players. But what we noticed starting a few years back is that even though people were seeking the introductory product, fewer and fewer players were moving deeper into additional material such as the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. Back in the early 1980s, the game rules were accessible and play was supported with a lot of adventures. Since then, the game has become increasingly complex. New editions have added more rules, more options, and more detail. Even if one area of the game became simpler, another area became far more difficult to grasp. We need to reverse that trend and make a version of D&D that new players can pick up with ease and that existing players can continue to play by utilizing a wealth of world-class adventure content. This brings us to the second big picture goal. We’re going to make an RPG product called Dungeons & Dragons. It will be the game, Dungeons & Dragons, not just a sampler or a game that guides you through making a character and playing a single adventure. You can buy D&D and play a full, tabletop RPG campaign. You will be able to start playing, regardless of experience, and will easily find other products to migrate to if you so desire.

For the established D&D players out there, this is where modularity comes in. To create a continuum of options and complexity, we need to make a game that has a simple, robust core that is easy to expand in a variety of directions. We can’t change the core game to accommodate those later options, whether they’re new classes or detailed rules for climbing. The core must remain unchanged as you add more rules. If we achieve that, we can give new players a complete game and then add additional layers of options and complexity to cater to more experienced gamers.

The Basic Rules The basic rules represent the starting point for the game. The basic rules cover the absolute core of the game. They capture the strengths of basic D&D. These rules form a complete game, but they don’t give much detail beyond t h e rules needed to run dungeon exploration. Characters are created by rolling ability scores (though we have discussed the possibility that your class gives you an array that your race then modifies), picking a race, and picking a class. Skills aren’t part of the game, but we’ve discussed integrating skill dice into the classes (fighters get their skill dice on all Strength checks, wizards on all Intelligence ones, and so forth) to support improvisation and the use of checks.




Each class has a default specialty, and its benefits are presented as class features. The specialties are simple but effective, such as bonus hit points or spells. You can think of the basic rules as supporting an AD&D approach to characters—race and class as choices, though without multiclassing—combined with basic D&D’s approach to the core game rules. The current choices that are present in the game— deity for a cleric, tradition for wizard, and so on—won’t appear here. The options built into characters will reflect the iconic D&D expression of the classes. Clerics will turn undead, wield maces, wear heavy armor, and heal characters. Wizards will throw fireball and magic missile. Fighters will wear heavy armor and wield the best weapons. Rogues will be sneaky, good with traps, capable of climbing walls, good at backstabbing or sneak attacks, and otherwise talented with the classic rogue abilities. This is where it is critical that new and returning players see the races and classes in their most iconic form. The key strengths of the basic rules are that they make the game easy to pick up and play, with fast character creation and classes that default to simple but effective options. Like basic D&D, the rules are more freeform, with DMs encouaged to use the core mechanics to adjudicate corner cases as they come up. The basic rules will succeed if they support the key concepts of an RPG, namely that you can try anything and that there are no bounds to what is possible. Like basic D&D, the focus rests on

the core concept of an RPG, rather than exhaustive rules or character options. Even better, people who don’t care for complex rules, or the new layer you’re introducing to your campaign regardless of the rules you’re using, can create a character using these rules with a minimum of fuss. The Standard Rules The standard rules represent the next step up in terms of complexity and options. You can think of them as a combination of 3rd Edition’s character creation and 4th Edition’s approach to DMing, with flexibility brought to the forefront for players and rugged extensibility for DMs. We’re also adding elements to allow for a 2E-with-kits feel (specialties and backgrounds) for players who want to focus more on story in character creation than mechanics. Characters are built rather than randomly generated, with players aiming to combine a specific set of abilities to craft a customized character. For DMs, the rules provide more depth and a more detailed mechanical framework for improvising monsters, terrain features, and other mechanical elements of the game. If in the basic rules a cleric carries a mace and turns undead, a cleric in the standard rules might be a devotee of Thor who wields a warhammer and calls down thunderbolts to smite enemies. The characters in the standard game are a more diverse lot, with a focus on options to build unique stories, combinations of abilities, and so forth. Most notably, we see multiclassing and prestige class rules as part of the standard game. Advancing to 3rd level as a fighter, then grabbing a few levels as a rogue before becoming an executioner of the Dusk Shadow Guild, is a great way to use the game rules to customize your character. We’ve seen in the past that this freedom can also cause problems, as different players find different parts of character creation rewarding. Some players love to tinker with combinations of abilities to create powerful player characters. For those players, we’ve built backgrounds and specialties as elements that can be broken down easily into feats and skills. We’re looking to do the same for classes where we can. For players more interested in the narrative, backgrounds and specialties allow them to make interesting choices that express a

character’s story without sacrificing power or requiring them to master the system. It’s important to remember that people find different elements of D&D enjoyable, and one of our challenges is to ensure that we have few or no barriers in front of what you like about the game. On top of that, our aim is to keep a close eye on the raw number of options available. Feats and class choices are intended to have a bigger effect on your character, rather than small bonuses that must be combined to really make a PC different. Because of this, we have to work much harder to playtest new content and verify that it represents an interesting option. We’re committed to doing that because it ensures a longer, healthier lifespan for the game. For DMs, the standard rules represent the next mechanical step from learning how to assign DCs and call for checks. The standard rules will adopt some of 4E’s innovations, such as creating monsters on the fly through a set of standard damage, hit point, and defense numbers by level. A DM always needs the ability to improvise, and in the standard rules we add more depth to what you can improvise comfortably at the table. In addition, our aim is to produce a set of nonplayer character and monster creation guidelines that meet 4E’s level of complexity and intricacy. A DM running a standard game sees the rules more as a tool to produce specific things he or she needs or wants to do, much in the same way that a player in a standard game pictures a character then turns to the rules. In many ways, the standard rules for DMs assume that the DM is interested in system tinkering and mechanical creation as an interesting task in itself, where the basic rules place a much bigger focus on stocking a dungeon or wilderness with existing traps and monsters, or creating scenarios using pre-built mechanical elements. When it comes to core mechanics, the standard rules add more levels of detail. Rules for wrestling, more specific rules for swimming, and so on give greater detail and specificity for DMs. The concept here is to let groups settle on the level of rules complexity they want. Each table has its own comfort level for rules vs. rulings, and it’s important that we provide a good base with extensible options in a logical, easy to understand pattern. We fully expect that groups will mix the basic and standard rules. A DM who prefers to improvise

things and make rulings can stick with the basic rules, while players who want more detailed character creation can use the standard rules to build their PCs. A group might prefer to use the standard core rules and their level of detail but with the simple characters of the basic game, but another group might use basic core rules and rely more on DM adjudication for adventures with their highly customized, standard rules characters.



Elder Scrolls Skyrim: Dragonborn The Good Awesome new island to explore Morrowind callbacks Great new dungeons and puzzles High-level content and items

The Bad Dragon-riding is underwhelming Story feels rushed

Dragonborn is a terrific DLC - perhaps even a better one that Bloodmoon, that it tries to recall. The game now features lots of novelties that - in connection with interesting quests, a big island to explore and dungeons to loot - create an impressive main course. The full potential has not been reached (riding dragons can be uncomfortable and the ending is kind of weak) expansions, Dragonborn is an excellent DLC and a must have for the fans of the series.




DmC 16


The Good Sick combos Superb style Great visuals

The Bad No lock-on Campaign cut short

Ninja Theory had big boots to fill. But they mastered the reboot of the iconic stylish action series. The fighting system manages the balance between traditional dynamics and contemporary combo madness. The art design is close to perfect. The narrative though is sometimes losing focus and refuses to give the characters room to grow for most of the time. Nonetheless this is the first big action highlight of the year

The Cave The Good Plenty of funny, clever puzzles Ample replayability built-in Well-defined sense of humor

The Bad Wonky jumping controls Choppy framerate.

The Cave supports up to three players working together on a single TV, but falls short of letting players split up, so you still have to switch back and forth as puzzles demand characters in different locations. Still, that cooperative vibe echoes the way many players first encountered the genre – a group of friends gathered around a screen, laughing at the crazy solutions required to slip past a perplexing blocked path. In replicating that novel experience, The Cave succeeds.




Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt 18


The Good Lots of new enemy types Enemies have a nice range of abilities Same rock-solid Borderlands mechanics

The Bad Witch doctor makes for some frustrating fights Story, characters, and humor fall short of Borderlands 2 standard

In Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt players enter an uncharted territory deep in the swamps of Pandora where a very large Hyperion ship has crashed. The wreckage is believed to have stockpiles of loot. But watch yourself because mutated creatures, and armies of savages also had their interest t piqued by the ship. As ferocious and deadly as they may seem, the mysterious Professor Nakayama claims to be their diabolical leader, and he’s calling all the shots.

Fire Emblem Awakening The Good Highly customizable experience Lovable and memorable characters Beautiful and varied visual style

Those looking for a challenge need look no further than Fire Emblem: Awakening, and newcomers can enjoy a much more accessible experience via the casual mode. With steady innovations such as the improved sound, relationship system, and online functionality, fans can finally rejoice at the series’ return to Nintendo’s newest portable device.




Terra Mystica 20


I like Terra Mystica a great deal, but have been unable to quite reach the point where I love it. It is an extremely impressive and clearly well designed game. All of the intricate parts work together quite effectively and while I wish more of your time was spent focusing on what other people are doing rather than building your empire, I do not think this will detract from the game’s general success and popularity. In fact I think it will only add to it and make Terra Mystica one of the most successful and popular releases of 2012. If you like heavy eurogames then this is a game you should definitely play.

MTG - Gatecrash This set has a great mix of new things to keep you wanting more. There is a really heavy presence of multicolored and hybrid cards. And there is something really cool and powerful for each color set. Not to mention, the best Gideon card ever! Defenitly worth $100, grab one if you can.




Legends of Andor 22


At the heart of Legends of Andor is its unique narrative, the linked scenarios of which tell an overarching story as the players successfully complete objectives. For each scenario, or “Legend”, a legend deck conveys the plot of an ever-unfolding in which the players are the protagonists. A wooden marker moves along the board’s legend track at key points during each scenario, triggering the draw of a new legend card, the introduction of new game-altering effects, and the advancement of the story’s plot. In the end, the players must endeavor to guide the fate of Andor through their heroic actions.

Vigilant Parents. Violent Games In 2011, the Supreme Court struck down a California law banning the sale of violent games to minors, saying that games are art and have the same protections under the First Amendment as music and movies. As an avid video game player and previous owner of a local game store. I have seen many children try to buy intensely violent games, but rarely do they try on their own. A majority of the time, the child’s parent will buy the game, without knowing what it contains. Parents who play games with their children can put in to context what a child sees in a video game.

Parents, not the state or federal government, have the best control over what their children do and see. I do not allow my children to play any game they want. I have told them what they can play and that is what they play. If they have interest in other games I have not approved I tell them why I feel they cannot play it and they understand. I want them to learned to appreciate games for their creative and artistic qualities as well as their more base aspects. But I do not think they need to have certain things placed into their life they would not normally be involved in at their age..

Children enjoy doing things they are not supposed to do. Video games are no different. I agree with the Supreme Court when it says games are art. Games such as “Heavy Rain” and “Limbo” have proven the medium’s contribution to art. However, something simply being legal does not mean it is appropriate for everyone. Children should not be allowed to play games that they are not ready for, but the same can be said about music and movies. The best protection a child can have is a vigilant parent.



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