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Advertising in Eye of the Vortex is.... ...Untouchable! No one can beat our advertising rates. Our magazine reader base is growing each month, and with that number growing, so too does your possible viewer impressions. In addition to this, with our online, free-based media, your ad does not become irrelevant after the next issue is published. Unlike print media, an issue two months old is still easily attainable, and our records show that our readers do not stop with reading the newest issue of Eye of the Vortex. Our magazine host, Issuu, offers similar magazine titles while you are reading. This becomes a very good tool for us; as of this issue, each previous issue has the reader count going up equally. Instead of each months readership capping at a set number, each issue has been read by the new reader coming along. Here is our proof:


In the chart above, the blue line represents the March Issue’s readership, the red line is February’s, and the green is January’s. The spike that you see is the release date of the March issue. Note that all of the issues spiked, not just March, meaning that readers did not stop reading when that issue ended, instead, they also checked out the older two issues. We anticipate this trend to remain the same when this (April) issue hits the stands. Why shouldn’t you advertise with us? Our Partnership fees are minimal compared to our competitors. We have small ads (located in the side bar of articles) for sale at $50 an issue and large, full page spreads for $150 an issue. How can anyone hope to compete with that? These prices are also locked in for the remainder of this year. Feel free to contact me for any promotions you wish to run, as we have plenty of time, space, and desire to help promote your causes.

Chris Newton President — Eye of the Vortex email: c.newton@eyeofthevortexonline.com

••S•• Eye of the Vortex (EoV) is a publication intended to promote the gaming industry as a whole by bringing into the spotlight gaming products, personalities, concepts, events, etc. The intent of this publication is not to show favoritism towards any individual game or gaming genre, rather to provide fresh material, education, entertainment, and in general, inform the gaming public of new products and where they can find the product. EoV is not a vendor, nor does it claim to sell any product. EoV only provides an entertainment and informational service to its reader-base as well as a promotional service for its affiliates and sponsors.

Images used in this publication are intended for the purpose of promoting the product relative to its use. Unless noted otherwise, all images used henceforth are the sole property of the promoted product’s owner. EoV asks that you help keep us in business by keeping an active interest in our affiliates and sponsors product lines. Our service to you is funded by their generous advertisement payments. Without your interest in their products, our services cannot be maintained. Please do your part in our community by keeping yourself informed and up to date on the newest products that our network has to offer.

Disclaimer April Cover: White Wolf Publishing; Hunter: The Vigil CV Newton Publishing Limited. © 2009 CV Newton Publishing Limited


Chris Newton

Editor-in-Chief Email

Illustrator Email

“Half-naked vampire to the left of me; grim

Brian Ross

Writer Email

“Please, please, please can Deadpool not suck in the upcoming Wolverine movie.”

“What do you mean it’s too detailed?”

Mark Manning

Writer Email

“If it doesn’t read from right to left, it doesn’t make it onto my book shelf.”

“Can someone explain this twitter-thing to me again?”

Jason Ford

Alex Hoffman

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looking muscle man with a stake on the right...”

Justin Mohon “Right, let me just grab my red marker and I’ll start editing this...article.”

www.eyeofthevortexonline.com

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March News  How to be a Daeva  A Kasual Kongregation  The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service  Gamer’s Perspective  Hunter: The Vigil  Inside the Box  A Taste of the Forbidden  A Monstrously Good Time  Black God  A Tale of Two Suits 

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March News ith everything that goes on in the games and entertainment industry, it’s pretty easy to miss a few things. Here’s a few items that you may not have picked up on last month.

W

Rumor: In the last month, a rumor that Games Workshop will be releasing an updated version of their classic Space Hulk game has been gathering momentum.

Wizards Extends Hand to Championship-less Yu-Gi-Oh! Players: Early in March, Wizards of the Coast sent shock waves through the competitive card gaming scene by offering any Yu-Gi-Oh! player who qualified for the Yu-Gi-Oh! National Championship a chance to compete in the 2009 Magic: the Gathering National Championship. Yu-Gi-Oh! is still moving through a transitional period and with Konami not yet setting a date for large scale tournaments, Wizards of the Coast seems set to play the benefactor in the turmoil with a nice gesture.

Palladium Books Gets Back to Business, Releases New Source Material: After a nasty embezzlement explosion nearly downed the gaming company three years ago, Palladium has gotten back in the swing of things, and released new source material for Robotech: the Masters Saga.

Spill Some Blood - Upper Deck Releases New World of Warcraft TCG Expansion : Blood of Gladiators is the 8th expansion to the upcoming MMObased game, and adds to new themes like PVP and Arena style play. New Loot cards have also been printed, allowing TCG players to access special in-game content on the WoW MMO. Epic Hits

Wizards of the Coast Releases Dungeon Delve and Player Handbook 2 for D&D 4.0 : The gaming giant included old favorite classes like the

Bard, Druid, and Sorcerer back to the game, while adding new classes like the Avenger and the Invoker in Player Handbook 2. They also gave DMs 30 separate intense “board-game like” adventures to run in Dungeon Delve.

Shelves: We talked with game creator Rob Dougherty in the Eye of the Vortex—February 2009 about his new card game. Epic hit the shelves in early March. 5K Tournaments have begun to be scheduled for those who are interested. the

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Original Copy of Action Comics #1 Auctioned Off For $317,200 : The first comic book to include Superman went for an unprecedented amount in March, sold by an anonymous seller. Hugo Awards Announced, Fables and Y: The Last Man Nominated : Both part of DC Comics’ Vertigo line, Y: The Last Man, Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores and Fables: War and Pieces were nominated for Best Graphic Story. New York Times Begins Graphic Book Best Seller List : Adding authority to the concept that comic books and manga are more than just fun and games, The New York Times has added a Best Sellers list for the genre, lending it credibility as a literary form. Viz Media managed to give a strong showing mid March, taking up all of the 10 slots with books from the latest volumes of Naruto to Bleach and Black Cat.

Tales of the Black Freighter Hits DVD/ BluRay: The Watchmen craze isn’t over yet; comic book inside a comic book Tales of the Black Freighter movie will hit stores and DVD OnDemand on March 24th. This film will fulfill a promise from Zack Snyder to Gerard Butler to put him in a role in the Watchmen. The pair previously worked together on 300 and rumor has it that the two films will eventually be combined into a super extended cut film. The Three Stooges are back!: The Farrelly brothers are set to direct the film and return classic characters Moe (Benicio Del Toro), Curly (Jim Carrey), and Larry (Sean Penn) to the big screen. The Farrelly brothers are known for raunchy yet surprisingly touching comedies such as Something About Mary, Kingpin, and Dumb & Dumber. Most notably this will be the first comedy Sean Penn has done since 1989’s We’re No Angels.

Sci Fi Transforms Into Sleeker SyFy: The Sci Fi Channel announced in March that it would be changing their name officially to SyFy in an attempt to modernize and brand their image. Their new slogan will be “Imagine Greater” and will continue to push further away from being strictly sci-fi related shows and films. The new branding image will also launch three more SyFy ventures—SyFy Kids, SyFy Games, SyFy Films—indicating new forays into children and gaming avenues. The change will go into effect on July 7th along with the launch of their new series Warehouse 13 and the return of Eureka.

The Beatles: Rock Band is the next music game being developed by Harmonix Music. It is set for release on September 9th, 2009 and will feature 45 master tracks from every studio album except Let It Be. The game will be separate from the Rock Band series chronicling the Beatles’ history and impact on the world. Dhani Harrison, son of George Harrison, has let it be known that the game will feature previously unreleased Beatles material, but no details have been released on what that material might include.

Good and Bad News for Comics Movies Fans: Marvel Entertainment, Inc. has done massive rescheduling of its Avengers film schedule. The Avengers film was pushed back to May 2012 and Thor to June 2011. Iron Man 2 remains scheduled for May 2010 and Captain America got a slight bump to July 2011. Sony Pictures still has Spiderman 4 scheduled for release in May 2011. However in a turn of good news, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke have signed on to play the villians in Iron Man 2 playing Black Widow and Whiplash respectively.

game server. The new version includes new support for all their old games and merges all Blizzard games including World of Warcraft under one banner account. The best feature is a positive use of digital rights that attaches your CD Keys to your account and allows you download the client to play the game if you should lose your CD. Rumor has it there are community features in the works and some kind of achievement system. Game companies take note, this is why Blizzard is the king of PC gaming.

Blizzard has launched the new version of its stellar free to use Battle.Net

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Mark Manning Ramblings of a Roleplayer

How to be a Daeva

S

ince I have such a backlog of White Wolf products to review, I have to double-up on product reviews—however this one will only be a single-part review as the product in question, Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus, is primarily “Filler and Fluff”. It is at this point that I would like to warn readers that this book is of a very mature nature and whilst I’m going to try and keep it to a reasonable level—There is no escaping the references to violence and sex; sometimes at the same moment. To give the reader an idea of what they are about to read, I want to show you the “sales-pitch” on the reverse of the book: “We’ve always been here, you know. In that sticky, musky place where sex and worship intermingle. We were the hierodules in the ancient world—I am the whore of Babylon, mother-fucker. Now be quiet, smile for me and get down on all fours.

It’s nowhere near a soft-core porn book, though the imagery is not shy by any means. It’s not a sex novel, but the content and overtones definitely give enough details that I wouldn’t lend this book out to anyone below the age of sixteen. Finally, it’s nowhere near a horror novel on line with Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft, but rather it lies somewhere in the middle of these three categories. The images, while raw, are not overly sexual and the material is a “titillating” read as it defiantly paints some steamy images and the statement, “the devil is in the details” has no truer showing than the slow descent of some of the humans portrayed in this book into servitor and dependence upon their masters. All of this comes together with a wide variety of art styles to create a captivating read that I’ve found very hard to put down over the last few weeks. The writing draws you in and allows you to see how things really could go the way it does in the story. Of course, this book is designed to serve as a player’s aid in White Wolf’s Vampire: The Requiem setting, another system based in their World of Darkness. Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus does contain a few additional rules, which are located towards the later half of the book. These rules are in White Wolf’s usual style of masses of explanation in plain text format, but due to the nature of the book and it’s intention, you can forgive the slightly awkward layout and format; it just seems like a small thing to complain about after so many great stories and amazing artwork. The book runs the gambit at $20.00 (USD), which is a little bit pricey for a player aid in my mind. The writing is solid, the imagery and layout are divine, and the book just screams quality and lust; making it a solid purchase if you want to step up your gaming evening and add that extra layer to your Daeva vampire.

If you crawl for me, I’ll show you some things you can do with that wagging tongue of yours that are far more interesting than spurting philosophy at me —Sinnhaja, Queen of the Harpies to a visiting Carthian.”

Until next time gamers, keep rolling those dice.

Essentially the book is mass of stories, comics, interview transcripts and extracts from journals all converging on the subject of the Daeva—a breed of vampires who don’t just take of the blood, but also of the body; animals of love, lust and depravity. The main crux of any of these stories seems to be centered on how these Vampires affect their Human “Partners”, for want of a better word, and how they operate. The book is somewhat of an odd-ball, as it’s identity is a hard one to peg—

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M

ark Manning PG Evangelist

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Brian Ross

A Kasual Kongregation 10 Great Internet Games to Play

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illions of Americans everyday are forced to sit and slave at jobs they marginally tolerate. Listlessly they stare at a computer screen, waiting for something to actually happen, all the while they secretly smirk that they are getting paid to sweep mines. Sure, they could get up and make a better life for themselves, but why do that when they can sit idly by, playing stupid games? The real question isn’t about playing games, but what games they do play. There are numerous warehouse game sites like GamesGames and Free Online Games, but they don’t necessarily inspire confidence, and they often riddle you with pop-ups and tracking cookies. More reputable sites include Yahoo! Games and Pogo, but their stock is limited and often it feels like you’re being sold something, but at least your computer won’t be compromised.   Then there is Kongregate.

Kongregate offers pretty much the same games you find at other sites, minus

a vast majority of the useless dreck such as Dress Me Up Fairy Princess Doll and a hundred thousand versions of Solitaire. Like other sites, a profile isn’t necessary to play, but having one offers more than just a way for the website to track your actions. Kongregate has assembled their games into a giant social network that is updated several times a week with new games, achievements, and challenges. It also offers an embedded chat server, so bored twelve-yearolds can flame you in yet another space.

The achievement system is more or less built the same as the PlayStation 3, offering you badges for doing specific tasks in games. The tasks range from easy things you can get by merely turning the game on to difficult ones that might take extended game play or intense skill. As you gain badges you earn points which affect your overall level. You can also earn points by referring friends, rating games, and making your own games. Just like the PlayStation and XBox achievement systems, your level and points really do nothing but show off at this point. There are promises to integrate some kind of reward/ privilege system, but for now, they’re merely for fun.   Challenges pretty much run the same way as badges except they are on a limited time basis and offer a reward (usually a card or sweepstakes entry). Some of the challenges have even featured custom content designed specifically for that particular challenge, such as Master Chief showing up in a game for a sweepstakes promoting the release of Halo Wars. The cards I mentioned are used in Kongregate’s custom card game Kongai. While you could purchase all the cards immediately for Kongai, anyone that comes back week after week will eventually accrue the entire collection. I personally haven’t played the game much, but that doesn’t stop me from earning the cards, in case I do.   The most important facet about Kongregate is that it really does support the developers of games. While anyone can design games for them, not all games are accepted and only the good ones are really rewarded. There are both weekly and monthly contests for the highest rated games, earning their developers as much as $250.00 (USD) and $1,500.00 (USD) respectively. Sure, they may force developers to use their API (code for badges and high scores), but it is not like they aren’t rewarding them as well. Kongregate also offers some level of revenue sharing, sponsorship, and user donations for game developers.   The web site is not perfect by any means and many of the poorer quality games are rife with bugs. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that if you play many games for a prolonged period of time, there is a definite memory lag as the game slows to a chug. Of course in your more difficult games, this can be a bonus as it gives you a surreal bullet time. The other problem is that games save via cookies, which requires them to be turned on, and also means that if you clear them you lose all your saved games. It doesn’t affect your badges or profile as they are stored server-side, but all the games you played will be reset as if you’ve never played them at all. Besides, the website clearly states that it is still in Beta, which is impressive for how well done and smoothly everything runs. That being said, Kongregate definitely seems like the gamers’ causal game

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website. It still has a long way to go and some growing pains to go through, but is definitely the worthy candidate to become the ultimate free web gaming site. Don’t take my word for it though, try it out for yourself and take assurance that angel donors have flushed over nine million dollars into their coffers.  

My 10 Favorite Kongregate Games

#1. Music Catch 2 Simple, beautiful, mesmerizing. Everything an artistic game should be. There are numerous modes you can unlock, although the basic premise remains the same. As a song plays, notes appear on your screen for you to collect. Yellow notes boost up your combo score, Red notes halve it, Purple notes vacuum in good notes, and the rare Rainbow note transforms all notes into yellow ones. Pretty simple right? The cool factor is that the notes are generated by the music playing, and after awhile of playing you will unlock the ability to use any web hosted .mp3 file as the music. The original music is perfect though, with “Leaves in the Wind” being particularly soothing and really making me wish I had kept up with the piano.  

#2. SeppuKuties

Ah, the beauty of SeppuKuties. When their home is deforested, a band of annoyingly cute animals band together to make it to Paradise Meadows. What follows is 21 levels of death and mayhem, as cute is punished and the animals crawl over their own dead comrades to make it over fatal obstacles and find a new home. Yes, the game is twisted and demented, but totally right on the mark. Seppuku for those not familiar, is a Japanese ritual suicide in which a sword is used to disembowel oneself. Cute!

#3. Battalion: Nemesis While it may just be a web browser based tactical strategy game done in the style of Advance Wars, Battalion is done very well and has some pretty interesting things going on—including a campaign and a bonus map. The AI is competent and not overbearing, actually using terrain and unit advantages in its favor. Like many strategy games though, once you break the initial attack waves, the AI can’t convert into defense. The most pleasant thing about it

was that it included air, sea, and lands units, quite successfully creating unit balance and fun maps that featured usage of all three fronts.

#4. Factory Balls 2 A fairly simple, straightforward puzzle game where you’re given a variety of tools to transform your plain white ball into an exact copy of a more colorful one. It starts off simple, but quickly begins to challenge the way your brain thinks as you learn to process things as first in-last out instead of first in-first out. The game is never overly difficult and can easily be finished in a single sitting.

#5. Don’t Shit Your Pants How do you make a game about going to the bathroom exciting? Don’t Shit Your Pants designer Rete had an idea to use 8-bit graphics, implement a timer, and introduce the world to the first adventure, survival, horror game. Armed with no knowledge of commands, it is up to you to break out your old King’s Quest skills and figure out how to get on that toilet before you ruin your pants. Entirely juvenile and surprisingly fun, this is a game to play with your friends. After all, there is nothing like your buddies screaming at you to “Pull down your pants!” The best part is there are nine distinct endings and discovering them all can be an epic adventure.

#6. Light-bot Maybe it is due to my computer science past, but I absolutely adored this little game. You play as the programmer of an automated robot that will follow your every command to a ‘T’, no matter how bad it is. What makes this game special is that it takes a true programmer’s brain and knowledge to finish. Armed with a main function and two extra functions that you can call, one must learn how to cope with limited programming space and figure out a way to trim their code to perform seemingly impossible tasks. Definitely a cool game that any teacher could implement into a lesson to illustrate how functions can be important in coding, and to improve creative problem solving.

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#7. Sonny

Help Wanted: Gamers Who Like to Write! Eye of the Vortex (EoV) is looking for a crew of Gamers who have an urge to write about their favorite games for our website. The desired articles will be talking about game strategy, game results, or even your own game review. Our goal is to establish a writing community that is diverse enough to capture the entire environment of the Gamer. What this means is that we are looking for articles about games, events, comics, anime, movies, etc. that would be of interest to a typical Gamer. These articles are intended to be entertaining, educational, and interesting. They should also be in good humor and of clean language. EoV is not interested in anything less than a final draft for your article. You should check your article for spelling, grammar, and be factually correct in your article. We are reserving the right to reject any article that does not follow those rules and if we find it not in the proper context of what we are trying to accomplish. If you feel that you have a writer’s spirit and an urge to share your words and experiences, please contact me with your unpublished article.

Chris Newton email: c.newton@eyeofthevortexonline.com

A turn based RPG without all the running around. Sonny starts off simple, but quickly becomes extremely difficulty as the levels progress, challenging your capability to predict and react to increasing stronger enemies. This is definitely the RPG game to test your strategic mettle against, and waste some precious time with. Definitely not a sit down and win one. You’ll need several hours to beat this one.

#8. You Have to Burn the Rope Completely over the top. The name of the game is the whole game. It is something you just have to play to see. At first I was pissed, a day later I replayed it and chuckled at how genius it was. Now, I regard it as one of the greatest satires ever made. This is a game you’ll have to play to see. If it is too hard, they also have a YouTube and html walkthrough.  

#9. Talesworth Arena: Death Watch

Similar to Sonny, but instead of being turn based, this game moves in real-time. Stall too long and your enemy will decimate you. Hit random buttons and your enemy will decimate you. Fail at strategy and your enemy will decimate you. That being said, if you own a working brain and can come up with a relatively decent approach to problems, you’ll enjoy this game. You fight as one of four radically different classes through ten levels of the arena. It’s mostly combat, but a fair amount of lore and side quests abound. The perfect waste of time for several days.  

#10. Super Stacker 2

Fun puzzle game involving blocks that need to be stacked. Easy enough at first to whet your appetite for more, then difficult enough to motivate you to keep on playing. The challenge is that the blocks can’t tumble over and many of the set-ups require intricate timing and balance to execute. This is one of the first games I ever played on Kongregate and one I keep coming back for more of. Once you master the art of balance and placement, you can move on to speed stacking and see how fast you can erect a perfectly stable structure.

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Alex Hoffman

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol.1

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

Produced By:

Price:

Dark Horse Comics

US: $10.95

Written By:

Eiji Otsuka Review of Volume 1

Rating:

M for Mature

Illustrated By:

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service has the kind of plot that originally got me interested in manga—it’s strange, it’s foreign, and all together wonderful and disturbing. The basic premise of the manga is that five students (and one sock puppet) from a Buddhist university in Japan use their special skills to interact with the dead and grant them their last wish. The intrepid group forms a business to help souls trapped in their dead bodies finally be free to move onto their next reincarnation. If that plot summary wasn’t odd enough for you, add this to the mix: the main character, Kuro, has the ability to talk to the dead when he touches them, Numato has the ability to dowse for corpses, Sasaki is the upperclassman, general manager of the group and an adept hacker who finds business for the team, Makino is an embalmer, and Yata is a channeler who speaks with aliens through the puppet on his hand (Yata is a gentle, soft spoken member of the team, while his puppet is anything but.) It’s a very...uhm...interesting group of people, and author Otsuka takes advantage of each of the character’s abilities to propel the story. The problem with working with the dead, is, unfortunately, you’re going to end up dealing with their murderers at times. It’s a fairly natural progression, and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service becomes a bit of a thriller/mystery manga, and our almost Scooby-Doo like gang gets to the bottom of things (and sometimes gets into trouble). For example, volume one deals with a serial killer who’s obsessed with creating the perfect corpse, a father with an unnatural affinity for his daughter (even after she’s taken her life), and an insurance fraud who can kill by statistics! Alongside dealing with these freaks, the team finds out the true meaning of the Dendera fields, and what a life is truly worth.

Housui Yamazaki

Pages:

201

The most interesting thing about this manga isn’t just the storyline—Otsuka not only manages to tell the story of his group of soul-savers, but the subject matter allows him to truly interact with social issues, along with some commentary on misguided and troubled ways of the mainstream. It focuses on the ideas of beauty and togetherness, and manages to get a point across without being heavy-handed. That being said, this manga has an almost tongue-in-cheek mentality, and with witty dialogue and sarcasm. It manages to be both shocking at one moment and hilarious in the next.

Dark Horse has done a great job with the translation of the source material

for this manga. Extensive translation notes and high quality paper are some of the perks of paying a bit more for your graphic novels, and I feel that I got my money’s worth from this volume. I can’t say if I really enjoy the sound effects translations at the end of the book, but it’s good enough if you care to read them. The artwork is realistic and well drawn out, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s very realistic but not to heavy, something that’s a bit of a shock, considering the style of the story being told.

I can definitely recommend this manga, but with one caveat. The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a good comic for anyone who likes movies like The Ring and other suspense/horror films, but this is not for the squeamish. If you don’t like the thought of looking at dead, naked bodies, and/or are unsettled by gore, this manga isn’t for you. It’s very graphic. There is a very good reason this book is rated M. Overall, this Dark Horse horror thriller is a great take on the genre, and a welcome addition to any horror fan’s bookshelf.

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Chris Newton

I was sent to their website and then offered a product catalog to review while I waited patiently for a few samples to arrive. Q-Workshop is based out of Poland, where they design and create the dice that you will see both here in this article and on their site, as well as catalog pages.

Gamer’s Perspective

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Gamer Bling

f you are playing a game that does not involve a game controller in your hand, chances are that you have a die in front of you. Dice offers you a variable result to a game situation or even an excellent method of keeping track of a variable number, such as life points. Since there is a need for such variable devices, gamers have begun using these items as a way to individualize themselves. Why would someone want to use the same color dice as someone else? How can I tell whose dice are whose? This concept has evolved over the years into what I have lovingly termed ‘Gamer Bling’. It has become a method for players to make themselves stand out in a crowd, even when their game play itself is not helping out at the moment. Whether it is a spin down die for a game like Magic (that is numbered in a manner that allows the player to just spin the dice one face to get to the next number in line) or a normal, randomized dice used in a Role Playing games, such Dungeons and Dragons, being able to have a dice look different not only helps the player feel a little “cooler” about themselves, but also presents a sense of prestige for the person in the group that has the coolest dice. It is a chance for a player to spend a little money on something that does not require skill or luck. Just like someone buying chrome hubcaps for their 20 year old, rusted-out car. It is something that they can directly control.

The attention to detail on these dice is remarkable. You almost want to make yourself very tiny so you can really appreciate the depth of craftsmanship involved here. Each set of dice comes with a container that is also custom painted to match the designs of the dice.

Q-Workshop has quite a few different design sets already in circulation and

are constantly working to get new licenses in order to make dice designs to suit specific games. In addition to this, they are running a contest in which people are invited to create their own design and send it in. The best designed dice actually get added to their product line, making the winning design a very prestigious prize. I can’t say enough about the dice themselves. It’s artwork! It is not just a piece of plastic or glass with numbers on it. It is a piece of art, making it very collectible and very much makes your dice collection the most prominent at your gaming table.

Q-Workshop has just launched their 2009 Dice Design Contest. Check out

their ad in this issue for more details on it.

With the thought of Gamer Bling in mind, we were approached by Q-Workshop for a review of their company’s line of custom dice recently. My first thought was probably the same thing that you are thinking right now—“Reviewing dice? What the? Why am I wasting my time?” Please, don’t turn the page yet! I must quickly capitulate here. I am not wasting your’s, or my time with this review, and I must greatly impress upon you to check these guys out.

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Examples Examples


Examples

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Mark Manning

the shadows. Some die. Many go mad. But someone else always picks up the candle and steps into the darkness…”

Ramblings of a Roleplayer

Hunter: The Vigil

A

s some of our readers will remember, we recently received a huge stack of products for review from White Wolf and I for one would like to say a warm and gracious “Thank You” to these guys for the amazing products. With that out of the way, it’s time to actually settle down into another two-part review on one of these products—White Wolf’s, Hunter: The Vigil (H:TV). Much like my Mouse Guard piece of January and March, this review will be split into two pieces—a “Pregame” review of the printed material and how it conveys the rules, shortly followed by a “Post-game” review. H:TV is another system set in White Wolf’s World of Darkness (WOD). It takes a look at what our world would look like if all those monsters and demons of our history and dreams were real and walking among us. How would humanity cope? Moreover, H:TV deals with a more direct question of “If you witness the darkness and all its forms, what would you do?” In this setting you take on the part of a Hunter; a person who, rather than declining into madness and denial, has picked up his baseball bat, grabbed a torch and chased the monster that attacked his wife into the cellar. The main difference here is that you are not a super powered being; there is no blond haired “Vampire Slayer” named Buffy with super-human strength around the corner to save you—you are a regular human being who’s realized that if nobody fights back against the darkness, it will consume you all. Instead, several people like you group together to form a cell—a group of like-minded individuals who fight against the darkness where they feel it is needed. Later, you may even join one of the larger groups (A conspiracy) and gain access to a greater number of supplies, a safe house and support from your organization. But there’s a darker edge to it then that, which I feel is best summed up by the quote on the back of the book: “As long as monsters have prowled the darkness, brave and desperate mortals have walked out of the protective ring of firelight to pursue

In fighting the darkness, you run the very real risk of becoming what you hunt; of descending into the deep black of insanity and rising a monster. This makes for a great sense of morbid frustration and propels the storyline into the darker aspects of the human soul. At what point will your sanity give out? When will you stop seeing potential survivors and start seeing lost causes? When does caution give way to paranoia? As long time fans of WOD will no doubt be aware, sanity has always been a main mechanic in the core rulebook—which unfortunately you do need to purchase in order to run an H:TV game. With the core WOD book running the gambit at around $25.00 (USD) and the H:TV book at around $35 (USD) you could be forgiven for balking a little at the price. It should be noted that you could see H:TV as a stepping stone up from WOD and in fact I would suggest you start with the core game before moving over to H:TV. One thing White Wolf has always been good at is producing a rule book that looks divine; practically every third page has a piece of artwork, or a text extract from a piece of setting-canon such as a diary entry or even the included small story “Flesh Trade”. This story is a great piece of relief from the rules but also serves to marry the setting to what you are reading as it covers the exploits of some “bent cops” and their slow formation into a Hunter cell. To make the blend between setting and system complete, the story is based in Philadelphia and at the back of the book are a number of maps, characters and story-hooks all centered on Philadelphia in the WOD world. This more than anything is worth paying the money for the two books—not many systems out there give you such an easy and direct route between system and setting, and none I have seen have done it this smoothly (Though I’d be happy to be proven wrong). This time around I’m working off of a hardback copy of the rulebook—all 370 eye-melting, sensually filled pages of it. In those pages you get a great amount of detail and variance in your options and how to run the game. But what I’m most concerned about in this book is the lack of a visual example for any part of the character generation process, or indeed any visual example. What visual aspects you get are amazing pieces of work but serve purely to make the book look amazing (which they do well), but in no part do they serve to aid you through what can be a somewhat fickly build system. Instead, you are handed two to two and half pages of text that you are expected to read through in order

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to learn how to make the slight alterations to the classical WOD core character build, all in order to build a Hunter. In fact, if I had a pet peeve about White Wolf, it’s that they don’t really do examples clearly and that does hurt their bottom line; many a persons will flick through a rulebook looking for sidebars before they purchase it—myself included. That isn’t to say that there isn’t any helpful hints and guides in there but that their layout is obviously designed for aesthetics and not with referencing in mind. Having said that, the language used is plain and straight forward; at no point did I need to re-read a sentence because of the language used. Although a few rules did require me to give them a second going over. To explain the mechanics is a bit of a misdemeanor here because most of them are stored in the WOD core rulebook and what is contained in H:TV is primarily the twist in flavor and the system-specific rules. An example is the Hunter’s ability to expend their Willpower in powerful, but dangerous, ways. Yet in a generalized nut-shell, the system is geared around dice pools of ten-sided dice or D10’s, generated by the combination of a relevant stat and skill. From these dice pools that you roll, you take into account how many successes (i.e. how many dice showed a value of 8 or higher) you scored and compare this to the task you are trying to achieve. There are obviously bumps and kinks to that generalized rule but as an example it holds well.

With this in mind, characters can perform a wide variety of actions but can’t always perform them well, which makes for a nice balancing mechanic built right into the system core. This means that there will be times that your survival depends on shear dumb luck as a member of your party tries to open a door, whilst you face off against the ghouls chasing you down the corridor, or whilst you try to hot-wire a car before the face-peeler makes his way across the high street. If I had to sell H:TV to you, I’d tell you that it’s a smooth system, yet has a reasonably high level of buy-in, but it does allow for a great amount of diversity in build options and promotes a much more “Mature” style of play then other systems. It becomes a little hard to joke around when your character’s wife just got violated by something that looks like it came from an H.P Lovecraft novel. In fact, that would be another aspect I’d mention; the setting can be geared towards a “Lovecraftian” vibe if you wanted, and although there are some systems out there which are built for this purpose (I have no aspirations of ruining Kenneth Hite’s career), there are some who wish for something a bit more “chunky” than what the GUMSHOE system can give them. Until next time gamers, keep rolling those dice.

M

ark Manning PG Evangelist

R

A Collection of Horrors Looking for ideas for your Hunter game? The Collection of Horrors is an anthology of Storyteller tools inspired by the Horror Recognition Guide that you can either use in conjunction with the Guide or as part of your existing Hunter: The Vigil chronicle. Each story kit in the Collection of Horrors (which you can buy individually, as a bundle or as a subscription) contains variety of appropriate tools; usually an SAS scene, a character with a character sheet, and props ranging from maps and reports to print out and hand to your players, to short imbedded audio files that you can play at your gaming table. These kits represent a collection of evocative story tools that you can write a story around, drop into an existing SAS or even string together.

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Dan Wright

Inside the Box Three “New Party Classics” enjoying a pleasant, quiet evening at home, basking in the pallid You’re glow of your laptop, when, suddenly, there is a knock at your door!  Upon

answering the clamor, you learn that your nice, quiet evening will instead be a loud, entertaining evening with the eight or ten friends who decided to drop by! Undaunted, you pull open the game cabinet and take a look for some timetested games that have proven to be engaging for larger groups.

Apples to Apples (Mattel • 4-10 players, ages 12+)

Like all really good games, the premise of Apples to Apples is simple, yet the results can be pleasantly surprising.  You start the game with a hand full of “red apple” cards, which each have a noun printed on them, such as “Helen Keller,” “Canada,” or “Oxygen.”  Then a player draws one of the “green apple” cards, each with an adjective, such as “Organic,” or “Fancy,” and reveals it.  Each other players must choose a noun that they believe best fits the adjective.  However, the phrase “best fits” here can mean the most accurate, the funniest, or even the most absurd answer.  Since the cards in hand will rarely be straightforward matches for the adjective card, the game tends to get silly pretty fast, which is a good thing when it comes to party games. Based solely on their own opinion, the judge then chooses one of the “red apple” nouns as the winner. The person who submitted that noun wins that round, and the next person in order becomes the judge for the next round. Play continues until a player has won a pre-determined number of rounds. Part of the fun is getting to make unusual associations between the adjectives and the nouns.  For example, if the green apple to match is “Phony,” you could drop a serious attempt like “Ghosts,” or you could choose the more offbeat “Spam” to be the match to “Phony.”  Not only is it fun to see the crazy matches your friends come up with, but there’s also an aspect of gaming with your friends’ personalities; to see if you can guess what they will find more clever or amusing out of the cards you have in hand. The one caveat I have to this party game is that you can’t take Apples to Apples too seriously.  Whether you win a round or not is completely at the whim of the judge, so you can’t get too hung up on which answer was better or worse.  This is definitely a “go with the flow” sort of game. Even though the box says 10 players, I’ve seen this game played with more than that, but it was rather late at night, so everyone was a little giddy. That only made it more fun!

Trivial Pursuit (Hasbro • 2-36 players, ages vary by edition) Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past quarter-century, you’ve probably played this new classic. Trivial Pursuit took off in the ‘eighties and it has stayed strong edition after edition.  Also, the variety of editions and formats released over the years is staggering, ranging from the basic “Genus” editions to niche formats like the Trivial Pursuit DVD SNL Edition to electronic versions of the game on multiple gaming platforms.

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I consider this game one of the new classics of party games, simply because this is the one of the few games I’ve played with large numbers of people that always keeps the players interested throughout the game. In fact, I’ve found that larger teams (3-4 people) actually improve the Trivial Pursuit experience, as with more teammates, there is a better chance of getting any given question correct. When teams get more questions correct, it keeps the game from dragging on too long, and boring some of the less focused members of the group. I also tend to prefer no more than four teams in a large gathering, for pretty much the same reason.

phrase and five common words related to the target word.  For example, if the target word was “hockey,” the card could also contain the taboo words “ice,” “puck,” “goalie,” “Wayne Gretzky,” and “stick.”  You then give clues to help your team guess the target word, while avoiding any of the taboo words on the card, because, if you do say one, the player from the other team—who is monitoring the cards as well—will buzz you with the very annoying, noisy, and fun buzzer.  If you don’t know a word, or if nobody else in the room can guess it, you can pass on it, which keeps the game moving along nicely. Taboo can be extremely fun when you play with people you know really well. In one game, my friend looked at the card, looked straight at me, and said “Pomegranate.” Immediately, I replied “Temple!”, which of course, was the target word. Jaws dropped all around the room, but that’s just the kind of zaniness that ensues from time to time. The major drawback to Taboo seems to be that quite a few of the words are a little obscure, so they get passed a lot, or nobody else but the clue-giver knows what they are. Also, I’ve found that a few people really dislike the loud buzz emitted when they use one of the taboo words. Other than that, Taboo is a fun game that has easy rules, even if they are a little difficult to follow...BUZZ!

The many editions of Trivial Pursuit do provide a range of experiences, but it can sometimes be frustrating when the average difficulty gets a little high. I found this to be true in the 90s Edition Trivial Pursuit, which seemed to us to be ridiculously hard when compared to the 80s Edition Trivial Pursuit. That’s why I’m looking forward to the 25th Anniversary Edition, which promises to have three levels of question difficulties, making the game just a little more fun for everyone.

Taboo (Hasbro • 4 or more players, ages: adult) Taboo is another simple party game with some very fun aspects. The group splits up into two teams.  When it is your turn, a timer starts, and you start with the top card of a stack of “Clue” cards. Each card has a target word or

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Brian Ross

A Taste of the Forbidden I

t has been a good couple of years for the sci-fi genre on TV, in fact, it is the best it has been since 2002 when X-Files went off the air. There were numerous attempts to capture the X-Files’ audience, including notable failures such as Invasion, Firefly, and Surface, but nothing really could unite the hordes of sci-fi fans. While Battlestar Galactica and Lost have arguably done very well in the wake of X-Files’ departure, none have really filled the void left by Scully and Mulder. However, two years ago there was a major boon—often called the “Year of the Geek.” During this year, Chuck, Knight Rider, The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Heroes, and The Big Bang Theory all came on the air and the hit summer movies were dominated by lovable characters such as Michael Cera (Superbad & Juno), Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard), Ellen Page (Juno), Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and Shia LeBeouf (Transformers). It was pure domination and ownage by a class of people that normally only display their power on YouTube. Although, I think it was more of an era than a year, since 2007 just marked the start of it. Last year continued that trend with the biggest movies being comic book films, such as Iron Man, Hulk, and The Dark Knight. Geek shows also continued to move into mainstream networks with shows like Reaper, Fringe, Dollhouse, Pushing Daisies and Life on Mars. Not everything is rainbows and butterflies, as Daisies and Life on Mars have been canceled and the Watchmen film failed to ignite into a blockbuster, but things are still looking really good. Comic book movies are still the rage and seem to be planned out for the next four years, while Fringe has emerged as the X-Files heir, apparent in spirit but not in ratings. Most importantly, video games seem to be an unstoppable force, posting huge numbers and gains despite a recession. The summer movie season is almost upon us, offering more comic book films and a Star Trek reboot that I dare say actually looks exciting.

signal of something grand and golden.   The thing is, I found it months ago and I’m ashamed for not sharing it sooner. It is a 13-episode TV show that no one seems to talk about. Spiritually, it seems to be a successor to both Gattaca and Blade Runner—commenting on issues such as cloning, sentient AI, memory manipulation, virtual reality, and genetic engineering. The show is called Forbidden Science and the reason you probably haven’t heard of it is due to it being a late night Cinemax show. That’s right, it is soft-core porn (meaning no penetration, gaping vaginas, or a stray penis) and apparently people are a little embarrassed to discuss it for that very reason. Part Red Shoes Diaries and part X-Files, the series is a unique blend of science fiction, noir, and erotic programming, with enough camp to keep it interesting!   The premise behind Forbidden Science is a company called 4Ever Innovations that biologically engineers clones and body parts, as well as making robots, virtual reality machines, and memory devices. There are also some darker applications of their technology that includes memory manipulation and even darker taboo sciences hidden in a secret division of the company. The series was created by Doug Brode who has done prop and concept work on films such as Harry Potter, Iron Man, and Star Trek. From his resume alone, you can see that he is a true sci-fi wonk, and the plots plus the amazingly well done effects prove it. Even though it is a soft-core porn series, it is not strictly porn as there is a strong serialized plot and numerous film and story devices that really put the level of directing and acting on par with a network TV show. In fact, I would say there is far more story than erotic scenes in each episode, and unlike other Cinemax, After Dark Endeavors, the eroticism isn’t the central aspect.

I say all this because I’ve located a sign of how bright this era is shining. A

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Vanessa Broze as Julia White

The characters are an interesting mix and definitely not the silicone riddled bimbos you might expect from an erotic series. It tends to favor realistic males and naturally beautiful women (albeit one does have a haunting tattoo of eyes you’ll never forget). Each episode generally revolves around a different character and an issue attached to them. The most intriguing (story-wise) is Julia White (Vanessa Broze), a recently created clone of a deceased scientist. Julia has also had the scientist’s memory attached to her to allow her to continue the work her


original was working on. A lot of her episodes deal with the clone and memory issues, exploring how memory and emotion differ as well as basic cloning issues such as right to life and the concept of the soul. At one point she falls in love with an android whom, like her, struggles with identity and existence. Conflicted, the two are joined by their struggle of being mere homunculi than actual humans. My favorite characters are Dr. Philip Wise (Austin Ball) and Dr. Penny Serling (Noelle DuBois) who play the lab rats and tech savvy scientists of the show. They are more quirky and campy with Philip being your typical uber-geek and Penny being an over-sexed vixen, seemingly stripped straight from an anime. Their plot lines usually intersect and often deal Noelle DuBois as with the more technological issues of the series such as virtual Dr. Penny Serling reality, androids, and memory chips. In one particular episode, Penny is trying to create the perfect love-bot, but keeps failing because she wants them to exist solely as her lollipop (yes, it is as naughty as it sounds). No matter how she programs them, they keep wanting to cuddle or get theirs too. On the surface it is not too interesting, but when you start to think about the implications it has on the rights of androids as a sentient being versus the will of their creators to create a slave, one can get really caught up in how deep the seemingly shallow surface is. I think it would be safe to say that Penny is probably the show’s comic relief and most popular character with her eccentric personality, stunning looks, and general likability—if you like Pauley Perrette’s Abby from NCIS, you’ll definitely dig Penny.

All of that being said, and despite being an erotic TV-series, Forbidden Science is extremely well done and worth looking at by any sci-fi wonk. If you’ve got a thing for perky, exotic looking females, it is also definitely worth a gander. That is definitely the beauty of the whole thing, it is both sci-fi and erotic at the same time. Sure you could fast forward from sex scene to sex scene, but you’d miss out on a vast majority of the show. So far the series has avoided going over the top by doing things like having a pink R2D2 come out with a dildo attachment modulating “StiCk ThIS IN YOur CrANNy it WiLL EaSe the PAIn” or introducing a new alien species with phallus-like tentacles. Hopefully it will continue to stay away from that. For you “Bow-Chicka-Bow-Bow” music lovers, you’ll get to know a few more coitus tunes with a techno/house twist. While Doctor Manhattan’s junk may have been big, shining, and blue, this series to me is the shining beacon that someday soon geeks will be ready to start getting mature about their beloved subject matter. It has been a long time coming with numerous recent strides such as 300 and Sin City. Geeks of the world seem more ready now than ever to take off the Spiderman underoos and finally grow up.

The last two characters are Bethany Montrose (Joanne Alderson) and Colin Sommers (Levi Freeman) whom don’t necessarily promote issues so much as ethics and the core of the plot. I find these characters the most boring, but the series would be episodic instead of serialized without them. Bethany is the nosy new hire who constantly is exploring the Joanne Alderson as seedy underbelly of 4Ever Innovations, while Colin is the Bethany Montrose enigmatic owner who will do anything to keep his secrets safe. Of course the two are going to collide eventually, but revealing anything about that would spoil the show for anyone who hasn’t watched it. Season One just ran its course, but is still available from Cinemax OnDemand and is being replayed fairly often late at night. The season as a whole will be available on DVD and BluRay later this year and Season Two is apparently already being planned.

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w w w.MonsterpocalypseGame.com TM

Š 2001-2008 Privateer Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privateer Press, Monsterpocalypse and their logos and slogan are trademarks of Privateer Press, Inc.

ÂŽ www.PrivateerPress.com

Printed in the USA.


Alex Hoffman

• Radicals are only interested in an ideal, and civilization takes a back seat when it comes to advancing their goals. • Fiends are pure evil, through and through. They destroy because they enjoy inflicting pain and suffering.

A Monstrously Good Time

E

veryone has seen a monster movie. Just admit it, it’s the first step to recovery. From the original, cheesy 1954 Godzilla that speaks out against nuclear war, to H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds, to the Peter Jackson epic Academy Award winning 2005 King Kong, monster movies permeate popular culture in the US and abroad. Privateer Press, publisher of the award winning role playing game Iron Kingdoms and the award winning miniature game Warmachine, have tapped into the “kaiju”, or “big monster”, genre to create a game where YOU are the monster, and YOU destroy the cities, using a variety of beautifully sculpted figures.

What Is It?

• Destroyers are motivated by wanton destruction. It’s nothing personal; just don’t get in their way. • Invaders want what Earth has to offer, and they’ll stop at nothing to have it. • Collaborators have their own objectives. Sometimes they work for the good of humanity, but other times humanity is just a stepping-stone.

Factions • G.U.A.R.D. (Protectors) The giant robots and armored tanks of Globally United Advanced Research and Defense fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. • Terrasaurs (Radicals) The Terrasaurs, earth-shaking, gargantuan dinosaurs, prefer a simpler time before technology and progress changed so much of the world. • Lords Of Cthul (Fiends) Dark beings from another plane come to enslave the human race. • Planet Eaters (Destroyers) These ravenous creatures from a far away world want nothing more than to wreck our planet.

Monsterpocalypse is a collectible miniature game where monsters of various backgrounds all battle for supremacy to perform whatever deeds they’ve set about to accomplish. Armies are built up of Factions and Agendas:

Agendas • Protectors are the good guys. They try to defend a way of life even if it means demolishing a few buildings in the process.

• Martian Menace (Invaders) These diabolical visitors from space have come to harvest Earth’s inhabitants and resources for their own insidious plans. • Shadow Sun Syndicate (Collaborators) Mystery surrounds the motivations of these stealthy scientifically engineered ninjas. * What Is It?, Agendas, and Factions taken from the Monsterpocalypse rule book.

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w w w.MonsterpocalypseGame.com Š 2001-2008 Privateer Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privateer Press, Monsterpocalypse and their logos and slogan are trademarks of Privateer Press, Inc.

ÂŽ

TM www.PrivateerPress.com

Printed in the USA.


Each of these Factions have various monsters to helm their attacks. From the brawling Terrasaur, Terra Khan, to the speedy hit-and-run Shadowsun Syndicate, Zor Raiden cyborg, each has its own unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. To help these gigantic titans fight, Monsters are followed into battle by a variety of Units: smaller evils, baby dinosaurs, tanks and other support units that help you secure victory. Each army contains one Monster and its Hyper form, 15 Units, and a sizeable amount of buildings.

figure. These dice can be used to perform power attacks, where your Monster rampages throughout the city or makes brutal attacks against opposing Monsters. Additionally, these power dice can be used to purchase your monster’s Hyper Form, a more powerful version of its normal self. Deciding when to move into Hyper mode and when to use power dice for attacks is very important, as the game ends when the health of the Hyper form and the Alpha (regular) form of the monster have been reduced to 0. To round out the game, figures have abilities which affect the way they attack, move, die, and affect combat. Using these abilities to their fullest separates the winners from the losers, and their effects can be critical during crucial battles. These abilities are also why the game can get very confusing at times. Privateer Press has included a quick-flip check sheet with the starter set, but it would be much more convenient if the rules for each monster were on a card or piece of paper.

How to Start Playing

Units are an integral part of the game; some prevent powerful abilities from working, and others fly into battle and explode on impact with the closest enemy. From the standard G-Tank of G.U.A.R.D. to the Planet Eaters time bomb, Explodohawk, each of the units has its own unique set up and ability set, and developing an optimal force of supporting Units depends largely on your chosen strategy. Should you sit back and shoot beams of energy to knock down opposing units and monsters, should you get up in their face and punch your way to victory, or should you be throwing opposing monsters into buildings? Each of these options is a great way to win, and units in each Faction will help you accomplish them. Gameplay is a complex mix of unit and Monster turns, using 10 action dice as the points you are allowed to spend each turn, getting your stomping, crushing, and smashing accomplished. Players pay dice to make new Units, move Units, and use them to fire at opposing forces, while Monsters use dice to move and attack. Choosing how to use your 10 points worth of action each turn is especially important, and makes up the basis of the game. It’s a fresh look at miniature games, especially if you’re used to rolling piles and piles of dice. Actions that Monsters and Units do normally end in the acquisition of power dice, red dice that have a higher success rate to hit an opposing

Monsterpocalypse is very easy to buy into; Privateer Press has released a starter set for $24.99 (USD) that has all the components you’ll need to start your collection, including an initial Monster and its hyper form, four Units and two buildings. Booster packs can be bought that contain different figure sets, both retailing at $12.99 (USD). There is a Unit/Building booster pack in Rise, the first set, which contains four Units and a building, and a Monster booster, which gives you one monster and its corresponding Hyper form. Additional dice, health trackers, and unit bases are available in the Accessory pack, and more maps are available in the Maps pack. Unfortunately, due to the collectible aspect of the game, getting the units you want is going to be an issue, unlike other miniature games.

Privateer Press has an amazing online tournament locator where you can

sign up for events and get in on Monsterpocalypse action. Getting a coherent army together for tournament play may cost a bit more than playing all the

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Printed in the USA. www.PrivateerPress.com TM

© 2001-2008 Privateer Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privateer Press, Monsterpocalypse and their logos and slogan are trademarks of Privateer Press, Inc.

®

figures out of your booster boxes, but in the long run, your Agenda and Faction related bonuses that you receive from playing one group of Monsters and their requisite Units are definitely going to help you win more games. Prizes for tournaments come in two categories. The attendance prize (what you get for showing up) is one of a few “shadow units” which are specialty versions of Units already in production. Winners of the tournament can get Mega versions of a specific monster (Mega is a special Hyper form that plays much differently from the regular Hyper form). Getting your hands on these specialty pieces is enough to get anyone to come out and play, and tournament support for the game has continually picked up speed as the game has developed. Unfortunately, a Monsterpocalypse starter pack is not enough to be able to play a game against someone else; your opponent also needs to purchase their own starter, so getting into the game initially with a few friends is going to take a bit of money.

Why Play? (Pros) Monsterpocalypse is an intensely fun and tactical miniature game that does a lot of things that other miniature games don’t do; its turn system and combat are well developed, and really bring the flavor of the kaiju “big monster” genre to life. Monsterpocalypse pre-painted miniature are breathtaking, and each Faction of monsters has an amazing background and flavor that makes the game fun to play. The game is complex, which is great for miniature veterans, but with the supplemental material that Privateer Press has provided with the Starter Pack, it’s easy to get your first game up in running within minutes of opening it.

Why Play: (Cons) Monsterpocalypse isn’t for everyone; learning the rules can be challenging, even off-putting, and keeping the various abilities, strengths, and weaknesses of your Monsters and Units in mind at all times can be fairly complicated. Players that aren’t interested in the kaiju genre might have a hard time getting interested in this game, and even seasoned miniature players may have a hard time playing the game with its intricate rules set. Acquiring units and the right monsters for your armies can be an expensive endeavor. The collectible format requires that players buy figures on the secondary market or open booster packs until they have all the units they need. Information could also be organized better for individual pieces. Additions such as cards to keep track of abilities and stats would be helpful.

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Alex Hoffman

Black God Vol.1

Black God

Produced By:

Price:

Yen Press

CAN: $12.75 US: $10.99

Written By:

Dall-Young Lim

Review of Volume 1

Illustrated By:

W

hen computer programmer and professional mooch Keita Ibuki goes out drinking and ends up getting ramen at a street side vendor’s stall, he assumes he’s going to be getting a late-night snack. Instead of eating, though, he gives the food to an odd girl and her cute puppy. In the events that follow, he loses an arm to a wild attacker. What a crappy night! When he wakes up in his apartment, everything seems to have been a dream. He’s got his arm back and he’s in his bed. But he finds that the girl, Kuro, is at his house! After a bit of explaining, she tells him that she is a Mototsumita, a guardian of the Earth’s tera (the puppy’s name is Punipuni, for the interested). In the events that transpire, it becomes quite clear that Kuro isn’t your ordinary girl; she has amazing fighting ability, superhuman speed, and she can take any blow that comes her way. After a brutal fight against another Mototsumita, Ibuki finds out that nothing is ever going to be the same again.

Sung-Woo Park

Rating:

OT for Older Teen Pages:

224

treatment; with color pages in the front and high quality paper, it is just a well put-together book. The images were clear, crisp, and practically jumped off the page. This is one of the great things about Yen Press manga, and they certainly do not disappoint. Black God is certainly not an everyday manga, and trust me, that’s something you look for when you want to get the most bang for your buck. The book is a solid introduction to a potentially great series and with a story this interesting and art this good, it’s going to be hard not to pick up the next volume immediately.

Black God is an interesting manga; one that shows what kind of worldwide

influence manga really has. It is actually written by two Korean authors, but was originally published in Japanese, in Japan. This outsider’s look at the seinen (older teen and adult) manga genre has produced a really original plot to mix in with your standard battle manga, and the result is an extremely good read. To make things even better, the manga is wonderfully illustrated. The action flows right off the page, and with use of tone, shading, and visual effects, this battle manga could almost be considered beautiful. It’s certainly got more style and fluidity than most manga I’ve ever read. Illustrator Sung-Woo Park does have the tendency to overuse action lines and blood sprays, but at the end of the day, it works out extremely well for Black God. Off-topic but, is it just me, or does he really like to draw feet? For this introductory volume of the series, Yen Press has dished out the star

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Black God, Volume 1 is available for purchase now.


Chris Newton

A Tale of Two Suits The first  thing to know about gaming is that gaming was not born with the creation of Halo, Madden, or Mario. It is much older than Serra Angel and Shivan Dragon as well. It doesn’t start with Monopoly or Scrabble either. Gaming goes back centuries to the old playing card days. Playing cards have been entertaining people for a long time. Just watch any Western movie and you will see playing cards in action. Paying attention to my audience, I am not going to tell you about Euchre or Bridge or any other game that involves light-hearted play. Instead, I will present you with a couple of games that can get your adrenaline pumping a little bit and even get some trash talking going in your group.

Spades

Spades is an ultra competitive, ‘pay attention’ game based on the concept of follow the leader. As in most playing card games, one player will lead a hand by playing a card from his hand. Each ensuing player must, in turn, play a card of the matching suit if possible. The person who plays the highest card of the suit that lead the hand (Ace > King) wins those cards, called a Book. A Book is a collection of cards that were played during one single hand. A Book is always closed, or placed face down once all the players have seen all the cards in that particular book. Players may not look at these cards again for the rest of the game. The book is then closed and placed in front of the winning player, who leads the next hand. With a card of any suit in his hand. This cycle is continued until all the cards are played and collected. This is where the strategy, and trash talking, of Spades comes into play. If you don’t have a card of the lead suit in hand, you must still play a card, but it must be off suit in this situation. If you play an off suit, that is not a Spade, you cannot win the book. However, if a Spade is played at any time, it is trump. (Trump means a suit or other subset of cards in the deck that is of higher value than all others.) The highest Spade played always wins the book, regardless of the lead suit. This places a premium value on all Spade cards, even the lowest numbers, which leads me into score keeping. After the deck is dealt, players must decide and announce their bid for the round. (The number of books a player will take during a hand, announced by the player in term before a hand begins.) Players take turns, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, announcing their bids. Once the bids are recorded, the hand is played out. Afterward, each player counts the actual number of books won and references their pre-game bid number. If the player reached or exceeded the bid value, they receive points equal to their bid amount. If they do not reach that amount—called being booked—they lose that many points. The first person, or team, to reach 15 points wins the game. Team?! That’s right! The most fun version of Spades is played with four players; two on two. Teammates sit across from each other and may NOT talk about the game, called board speak. This includes gestures, or other pre-determined codes that communicate the contents of your hand. When the bidding phase takes place in a team variant, the team bid as one, making things even more interesting when a team gets booked due to a play error by a teammate.

Hearts The other adrenaline game is Hearts. It is very close to being the opposite of

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Spade, in that you don’t want to win books and collect cards. Remember that you collect cards in books by playing the high card. In Hearts, you should try to play low, and not win the books in order to not grab point cards.

Once the game is ready to begin, the person with the 2 of Clubs leads with it. Point cards cannot be played in the first hand, and Hearts cannot be played at all until they are broken, (Broken—Hearts can’t be played until someone plays a Heart when they don’t have a card of the lead suit) There are two methods of strategy once the game begins: get zero points or 26 points. If you can somehow win all the point cards, you get to make a great decision: you lose 26 points, or all your opponents gain 26 points. I must warn you that this is very difficult to pull off. Unless you have almost all the high cards of a single suit, or you know what the heck you are doing,

Point Cards

There are 13 point cards in Hearts; 2 through Ace of Hearts (one point each) and the Queen of Spades (13 points). The objective is to have as few points as possible when the game ends. This happens when a player exceeds 100 points. The game starts off by dealing the deck completely to the players (three or four players works best - remove the 2 of Clubs from the deck in three player). Before the round begins, each player will select three cards from their hand and pass it to another player. The direction you pass changes each round, so you’ll need to keep track of where you are at. First you will pass left, then to the person across from you, then to the right, and in the forth hand, you keep everything. This is a cause for strategy and play-style decisions, as you must decide on what you are going to pass and keep in mind who you are passing them too. Some strategies include: passing your point cards (hoping to stick your opponent with them), passing or keeping Spades (protection against the Queen), dumping a suit completely (in order to play off suit and not be able to win a book), or just ditching all your high cards (so you never get stuck with a high can that wins you the Queen of Spades). Keep in mind that, just like Spades, you must follow suit, so having or not having a certain suit can be really good, or really, really bad.

I would advise aiming for zero points. However, you must always pay attention to where the point cards are going, as you may accidentally allow someone else to get all 26 and then you’re screwed anyways. Sometimes is it a good idea to “take a grenade for the team and win a book with a Heart just so someone can’t collect them all”. Another good policy is to hang on to a fairly high Heart, like the Jack, just to be sure someone has not tried something sneaky. Since the game ends when a player reaches 100 points, you must really be careful when taking, giving, or receiving point cards. In addition to simply gaining points for Hearts and Queen of Spades, there are two other scoring items to keep in mind. If a player’s score lands on 50 exactly, they deduct 25 points from their score. If a player lands exactly on 100, their points becomes 50 instead of ending the game. These two rules add a lot of score card watching to the game, making the required attention to detail very high. Always keep in mind that not only are there thousands of different card games, typically there are hundreds of ways to play these games due to varying rule sets and optional rules. These two games are being described to you as I learned them, and how I best enjoy them. I encourage you to search the net for a perfect set of rules for you and your play group, and make sure that you guys decide what rules you will be using and stick to them.

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Eye of the Vortex - April 2009