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Games Workshop – Sink or Swim?

GW lady

British Minis game manufacturer Games Workshop is garnering negative headlines this month as the result of a suit filed against the company in Florida by a livid game store owner. The suit filed by David Moore alleges violations of the U.S. regulations and the RICO act including but not limited to Fraud, Price Fixing, Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment, Restraint of Trade, Conspiracy and Antitrust Violations. Some of the major issues of contention for Moore seem to be:

– limitation of online sale (retails previously could not sell figures online and had to direct customers directly to GW for online sales) and increase of highly lucrative online exclusives not available in stores
– intellectual property theft including the name Space Marines (Moore alleges this theft was from Robert Heinlein, though the name had been used previously by Bob Olsen in a 1936s novella for Amazing Stories ), character design from FASA’s BattleTech, and Aliens design (R. Geiger)
– discontinuing Warhammer Fantasy Battle
– refusal to accept returns despite written statements to the contrary.

Moore is asking for 62.5 million dollars total in damages to be divided between himself and other affected stores as well as divesting GW of their intellectual property and trademark claims and changing the way the distribute product through their own stores.

The short, simple answer is that this suit will likely go nowhere. While perhaps breach of contract might be a legitimate issue, Mr. Moore’s wild volley of accusations range from misunderstanding IP law and RICO to being intentionally misleading regarding pricing and online sales. Also, there is some amount of irony that he dedicates at least a paragraph of his complaint professing to be only interested in upholding “a Free Enterprise & Free Market system of law” but then objecting to the company selling a product at a valuation that the market seems to be willing to bear. (And before you label Morris a miniatures-game playing Robin Hood you should know that in addition to receiving 20% of the proposed damages award, he asking that all copyrights and trademarks that Games Workshop currently owns to be conveyed to himself as well.)

All that being said, what seems to make Games Workshop the evil cackling villain of game manufacturers? When the suit originally made it into the news a forum thread on Board Game Geek veered back and forth from information on the suit to a list of grievances regarding GW. Posters left messages that read “…we all like to see GW get a bit of a kicking…”, “…GW, the company that’s reviled even by their own fans…” and “Even if they lost this crazy lawsuit, all they’d have to do to recoup costs is start making their models out of regular old clay, claim that it’s a highly-advanced space-age clay polymer, charge double for it because of that…” There’s been a good deal of negative press about GW and other stories seem to have more evidence to back their complaints.

GW

For starters, there are several documented cases of what some call trademark bullying – in particular over the term “space marines” (which, as noted above, wasn’t created by Games Workshop.) The subject of a cease and desist who had novels featuring the term pulled from Amazon  stated “I used to own a registered trademark. I understand the legal obligations of trademark holders to protect their IP. A Games Workshop trademark of the term “Adeptus Astartes” is completely understandable. But they’ve chosen instead to co-opt the legacy of science fiction writers who laid the groundwork for their success. Even more than I want to save Spots the Space Marine, I want someone to save all space marines for the genre I grew up reading. ”

Many cite Game’s Workshop’s almost non-existent customer service as another reason they dislike the company.  Richard Beddard attended a general meeting of investors in 2015. “I’ve got bad news for disenchanted gamers complaining on the Internet. The company’s attitude towards customers is as clinical as its attitude towards staff. If you don’t like what it’s selling. You’re not a customer. The company believes only a fraction of the population are potential hobbyists, and it’s not interested in the others.” There are literally dozens of threads on BGG, The Escapist, and Reddit complaining of unanswered complaints, queries met with indifference and hostility, and bait-and-switch-like tactics on the online store.

GW player

Will any this matter to Games Workshop? Its hard to say. 2015 was a challenging year for the company financially but profits almost doubled in 2016. Releasing online sales to outside stores seems to have created some goodwill between the distributor and its retailers. On the other hand, newer, less expensive minis games like Xwing are continuing to nab a larger section of the market each year.  After 40 years this phoenix seems to rise from its own ashes with regularity – we’ll see what the next decade has in store for it.

 

 

 

How do I find a Dungeons & Dragons Game?

Written by: Paige of the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Facebook
group
tumblr_npvpsuixei1roy0lqo1_250The 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Facebook
group is about 85,000 people strong, and the number one question we see in that group is, “How do I find a game of Dungeons and Dragons?”  Over the last year and a half, I’ve been collecting the advice that people have given each other, and have a standard list of hints and tips on how to find a tabletop game.  Considering the source, this is focused on D&D, but the advice also works for many other games. As always, when meeting new people, meet somewhere public and be sure to take the steps you think are necessary to stay safe.

 1. Start with a Friendly Local Gamestore.

Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes D&D, has a listing of local stores by zip code. You may have to make friends at store games before people are willing to invite you to home games.
http://locator.wizards.com/#brand=dnd

2. Try looking for Facebook groups for D&D or games in your area.

(If you use the search below, add your city or state to search in YOUR area).

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=dungeons%20dragons

3. Look for local conventions in your area.

Obviously Google is the way to go, but also
check Warhorn and the Wizards convention finder.
https://www.warhorn.net/conventions
http://dndadventurersleague.org/ConMap

4. Reddit and EnWorld have dedicated “looking for group” sections for both online games (see below) and offline games (face-to-face).

You can search by city or state name. Just ensure you format your post according to their guidelines.
https://www.reddit.com/r/lfg/
http://www.enworld.org/forum/memberlist.php

5. A lot of stores and groups use meetup.com.

Try finding a suitable group in your area.  If there are no local D&D or RPG group, look for board gaming groups or Geek culture groups as a starting point to make friends with similar interests.
https://www.meetup.com/topics/gaming/

6. Consider online games.

The basic Roll20 platform is free, and many DMs have a Fantasy Grounds Ultimate License, which lets you join their game with a free basic Fantasy Grounds license.
https://app.roll20.net/forum/category/22
https://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums/forumdisplay.php

7. If there are no Friendly Local Gamestores in your area, try posting an old-fashioned “Looking for D&D Group” ad at a video game store or public library.


8. Here are a couple of good articles on finding groups:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-to-find-people-to-play-d-d-with-1732749132
http://geekandsundry.com/finding-a-dd-group-how-do-you-want-to-do-this/
https://nerdarchy.com/2014/12/find-gaming-group-tabletop-rpg-games/

9. There are some websites that offer gamer locator services.

http://www.theescapist.com/findinggamers.htm (page of options)
https://www.obsidianportal.com/map
http://nearbygamers.com/
https://www.findgamers.us/
http://www.penandpapergames.com/

10. There is often a shortage of DMs. Consider starting your own game!

The easiest way is to start with an adventure module. The DM’s Guild has many cheap adventures you can buy to get started (http://www.dmsguild.com/), or you can buy one of the official hardcover campaign books from Wizards of the Coast.
Best of luck out there! And you’re welcome to come ask who’s in your local area in the D&D 5th Edition Facebook group any time! https://www.facebook.com/groups/DnD5th/
giphy
~Paige was amazing in putting this article together for us & you. She is one of the many moderators of the DnD5th group

My First TPK | OMG THE FEELS!

my-first-tpk

In 20 years, I had never lost a character in any of my tabletop games.

Twenty years! Please, let that sink in for a moment. Twenty years. Depending on your age, that will hold different weight.

Any character I had previously lost was part of the story or because I left the campaign, but never for these reasons… and I lost two in a month. The second loss was the result of my first ever Total Party Kill (TPK). A TPK, to me, was a that myth that happened to other people. It was that cautionary tale that meant you should be more aware, think things through, be cautious. Let me rewind a bit.

It was like a birthday present as we sat around the table, trying to figure out what we would play next and who would run it. Colleen, Thia, Vel and Orsen. Orsen pipes up: he can run us through Ravenloft. My eyes lit up as if I’d just unwrapped my big Christmas present or loaded up a game that just came out. Crymson Pleasure, Vampire Goddess (self proclaimed) has NEVER been to Ravenloft.

When it was mentioned prior, my party mates always said it was too hard. It was unforgiving and relentless. I scoffed at every single one of them, essentially calling them noobs. The realm of vampires is where my character longed to be. Take all of my angst and goth and put me into a realm of the undead, I beg of you.

I created Tereza Lupei and fashioned her after Gretel from the most recent adaptation of Hanzel and Gretel, the one with Hawkeye (at this point in her editing process, I’m sure Vanri is rolling her eyes. I know his name is Jeremy Renner, but he’ll always be Hawkeye to me).

Anyway, I created a fighter class character and gave her archery and handed her a crossbow. I even created an order around her family, but that will come later. I dressed her in  black leathers with a thick dark braid and off she went.

She wandered into the thick fog with her new friends in tow. A mad scientist/tinkerer, a barbarian, and whatever Thia was playing (you’ll understand later). So, we went through several encounters and quickly we were given a taste of how hard it was going to be. Several of us dropped to zero HP as we struggled to try our hardest. We learned to react a bit smarter. Orsen reminded us that he wasn’t going to pull punches. It’s Ravenloft, after all. It’s meant to kill the players. We smiled and nodded, but none of us really understood what that meant.

We lost Thia’s first character. We were overwhelmed and she dropped to zero. In order to save the rest of us, Vel created a ring of fire which burned her character to a crisp. She couldn’t be brought back.

Our group traveled on and encountered another group in the woods. With that group was an NPC: Isabella. She was Reza’s sister and Thia’s new character, a druid. Both from The Lupei clan (a group of vampire hunters, so to speak – centuries old). They continued on and Vel also created a new character, a Blade Dancer with whips. Orsen told us that we moved through more fog as our new group moved along, this time transported to the campaign, The Curse of Strade.

I was still utterly excited by all of this. We lost someone, but it was only the one so we’ll be just fine. Of course, this is the lie that we told ourselves. We proceeded with some caution, but we were still a group of murder hobos, as most D&D groups are. We had a few close calls and I shaped Reza in such a way that she became my most loved character ever. She embodied more of me than any other character before her.

They reached level 8 and it happened, the utterly unthinkable. The barbarian decided to see what was really in a crate labeled junk. It appeared that the junk was vampires… lots and lots of vampires. Trying to ensure that everyone got out safely, Reza distracted them. Everyone except Isabella got away. Isabella ran straight into the fray and was devoured by vampires along with Reza. The rest of the party decided to burn their bodies to prevent them from becoming undead themselves. This was the end of the sisters.

I cannot tell you how upset I was. I loved Reza more than any other character and now she was gone. I was hurt and angry, but there was nothing I could do. There was no magic, no hope. She was dead and I actually had to grieve a little bit. I have no idea why I connected so much with Reza, but I had and now that was gone.

So, it was time to make a new character. This time I made a Blood Hunter (thank you, Matthew Mercer, for creating this class). I made Demetrea, Reza’s mother. She had received news of her daughters’ death (I created the family/house so that, upon death, an important article of theirs was returned to their home) and traveled to join the party. With the way the timeline was set up, Demetrea had gotten the two articles weeks before the event actually happened in Ravenloft. However, by the time she came to the rest of the group, not even a full day had past.

They continued on and I had more trouble connecting with this character. She has a great build, but I couldn’t find her personality. I didn’t want her to be Reza, but Reza was all I felt, so I struggled with her. I roleplayed the best I could but tried to keep quiet because I didn’t know how to act.

Then it came, I finally found her voice and it was snuffed out. I connected with her anger over the death of Reza and Isabella right as they went up against the most powerful creature they had yet to encounter and no, it wasn’t even Strade. We had all made a grave mistake that we didn’t know about until this very moment. When our lives literally depended on it, we lost.

Everyone was killed. This had never happened to me before. I sat in stunned silence, waiting for some miracle, but none came. I felt a bit numb. This had never happened and two streaks were ruined in a month. I was devastated. I swallowed that feeling and dove into the creation of my next character for our new campaign.

How could this happen? Easy, we made the wrong decisions, several times over. We were too careful at the wrong times and reckless at the worst possible times. We tried our hardest but, in the end, Ravenloft won and we learned a few things from it. Hopefully we learned the right things, but mistakes will always be made when you don’t know the outcome. Like life, everything’s a gamble.

However the most important thing I take from this is… 

Ravenloft… I’m far from done with you. We will meet again and I will best you.

Confessions of an Alt-aholic

By Max Urso

WoW Alt-aholic

Character Creation in World of Warcraft

I love games. If there is a mechanic to create my own character, then I’m hooked; the more complex and flexible the better. New character ideas are always popping into my head, and that’s the problem. I rarely stick to one character. If there’s an account limit on toons (slang from City of Heroes I still use to this day), I will fill up my roster in no time. There might be one hero that gets leveled above the others, but inevitably I will have a dozen in their mid-levels while my “main” sits there waiting for the end game that he can never quite reach.

Why? I think I have a Pavlovian reaction to leveling. In City of Heroes, we would toot our own horns in super-group (guild) chat simply by stating, “Ding.” Our fellow SG members would respond with some version of, “Gratz.” I was addicted to the reward, the gratification of progress. I had a small handful of capes that had reached level 50…and were mothballed. Guess who reached level 50? Guess who’s rolling another new toon? Each capped out hero unlocked another character slot as well. They were keeping me hooked. One game after another, new purchase after new purchase, subscription after subscription; It’s not cheap being an alt-aholic.

Superhero games (there are few) are great for satisfying my Alt-itis. It’s the costume creator that reels me in. Champions Online (based on the pen and paper game) has, in my opinion, one of the best costume creation systems ever. It’s not for everyone though, and why play an MMO that your friends aren’t into? So I switch it up, try new game after new game looking for the one that will end my affliction.

I thought it was RIFT. Finally, I had found a character I could stick with. Life gets in the way and might slow me down, but I managed to reach the cap with my rogue. What was different? The secret was in the class system. There were only four classes, but each one had a dozen souls. These souls could be combined by picking three at a time and making the character you want. All rogues are not the same. I leveled to 65 but found the soul system was simply enabling my Alt-itis as I kept changing what souls I had equipped.

It’s not just video games either. I’m the same way with pen and paper RPGs. I have actually gotten upset when my hero makes his death save in D&D. I’ve begged some DMs to kill off my character so I can play the new one I had waiting in the shadows. It’s not as easy to satisfy that fix among your regular Sunday group, though. Continuity trumps boredom. The level progression in D&D is slower compared to video games, too. There’s less “Ding” so I have to find another creative outlet; I DM. Why create one hero when I can create a whole world? The need for new, an alternate game, is strong here as well. I don’t recall how many systems I’ve learned. All different, all fun.

Each game I play, each character I create satisfies a hunger in the moment. I feel a rush flying around Millennium City in Champions Online as the theme from Superman streams in my ears. I track down each new hunter’s pet in World of Warcraft, debating on what new name to give it. I stare in wonder at the backstory I’ve created for my Sunday group, most details of which they may never know. There is definitely a need that creating fills.

My name is Max Urso, and I’m an Alt-aholic.

From Table to Real Life: How RPGs Benefit Players

From Table to Real Life: How RPGs Benefit Players

TT_NotTheFandom

Tabletop gaming is definitely fun, especially if you find the types of games you really like.  Whether it be RPGs, card games or board games, there is something out there for just about everyone.  Games are also great for teaching skills, and maintaining those skills throughout a person’s life.  It’s a great way to teach children early, and in a fun way, skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Creativity and Imagination
You’d be surprised how much being able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems will help you as an adult.  Creativity is not just a great skill for artists, writers, and designers, but anyone who has a job where problem solving is key will benefit from this.  Being able to come up with unorthodox solutions can often be the difference between just having a job and excelling at a career.

It’s a given that creativity and imagination are necessary for artists, writers, and any other job where someone has to create something from out of their mind’s eye.  Gaming, especially the imagination intensive tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons, are a great place to get kids started learning how to tell stories and develop characters with interesting backgrounds and personalities.  Whether it’s creating their own stories as a game master, or acting out the stories of their characters as a player, they’ll get plenty of practice coming up with great tales all on their own.

Art and graphics are another source of inspiration for young people when it comes to tabletop.  There’s few entertainment mediums that have such a plethora of amazing art and graphics design as tabletop games.  Painted, or unpainted miniatures, character sketches, book covers, and playing cards are all great sources of art inspiration.  People literally have an art gallery at their finger-tips whenever they pick up a game, and that can translate to a study and love of art that benefits a lot of creative folks in future years.

Just the Basics
Math and reading, two skills that will serve anyone throughout their lives, are key to almost every game that you’ll come across.  Whether it’s calculating damage and points, or reading rule books to learn a game, tabletop will expand any young person’s skills with both of these.  Often with tabletop games, especially RPGs, people will come across words they’ve never seen, and terminology they won’t come across in school or on their favorite cartoons.  They’ll be exposed to complex ideas and references that may lead them to expand their study into things like history and sociology.

There’s no mistaking the need for even basic math when it comes to gaming.  Even the simplest game mechanic, like keeping score, will often involve addition and subtraction, and while kids are having fun playing a game they won’t even bat an eye that they have to tap into mathematics.  More complicated wargames and RPGs can get into time, distance, area, angles, and the dreaded thac0 formula of Advanced D&D.

Besides math, reading and vocabulary are two basic needs for gaming, and skills that will be vastly improved if this is your hobby.  Even down to the simplest card game, reading is necessary.  Rules, card descriptions, character backgrounds, and stories are all part of gaming.  Even board games have rules and often cards of some sort.  Starting with gaming early is a great way to make reading and learning new words fun.  Get kids involved and you’ll see a marked improvement, as much as you see when you read to, or read with children.  Even in later years gaming helps improve and strengthen vocabulary skills.  I still run into words I don’t often see, and new words I’ve never seen used before.

Socializing
Probably the biggest benefit of tabletop for me has been learning to socialize and break out of my shell.  Often us geeks and nerds, as proud as we are of the things we love, are introverts and quiet individuals.  Young people need socialization, but we tend to think this means sports, playing outside with other kids, or play dates with coworker’s kids.  Not every child is into these things.  Sometimes gaming is what they’re into, and just don’t know it yet.  Learning games with family, or visiting local game shops to learn to play board games might be just what’s needed to crack that shell.

Learning to interact with others in a competitive environment, sportsmanship, losing and winning gracefully isn’t limited to actual sports.  These are important skills to have under our belt when we get out into the real world as well.  Getting and keeping a job, or working in the art fields are competitive.  They don’t have to be negatively so, and teaching kids to compete fairly but also gracefully can mean the difference between success and failure.  Cheating to win can be just as self-destructive as failing and throwing a fit.  With gaming we can find a balance between teaching kids to win and lose, and teach them that having fun is just as important.

Besides the competitive factor, you usually have a group around any game.  Unlike video games, tabletop games are very rarely single-player.  It gets people around tables, talking, laughing, having fun, and most importantly just socializing.  Sometimes finding a way to make a person’s comfort zone also a social affair can bring the extrovert out of the introvert by giving them an environment where they feel at ease.

In the end, gaming may not be for everyone, but I think it’s something a lot of people would enjoy.  I think it’s a great way to help kids develop skills useful in the real world, not just to have fun.  It’s also a fantastic way for adults to hone skills useful in their careers, whether they be in the artistic fields or more run of the mill.  So, get out there, find your niche, and if your kids take an interest in the imaginative hobbies join in the fun.  It makes for some great family time.

Top 10 Signs You Might be an Old Gamer

Top 10 Signs You Might be an Old Gamer

Guest Post By: MaxUrso

1. Your first controller had one button or a paddle. Mine was the Atari 2600. Breakout and Kaboom used this little gem here.

atari_7

2. Your first wireless controller had a long rubber antenna and a 9-volt battery. Again the Atari was the bomb back in my youth. This guy was heavy though. I swear my brother and I would fight with these, whipping each other.

Z0067351

3. Technical support for a video game used to involve blowing air into a cartridge. I did this a lot with my Nintendo. Must’ve been more common than I thought. We also cleaned the heads with q-tips and alcohol.

blowing on cartridge

4. You wish rule books came in larger print. If I could shove my head any closer to the book these days, I’d be in them. I think there might be a market for Senior Gaming Devices and such in the future. Or at least a discount at Game Stop.

dragon little

5. Large dice are not a novelty but more of a necessity. It’s either larger dice, or I have to pick them up to read them. There are times I’d rather use my dice roller app then lean forward to the table to roll. Yup, I’m THAT old.

71km9I6Cl2L._SX355_

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Dungeons and Dragons, Devil’s Playground to Pop Culture Staple

TT_NotTheFandom

In the early 70’s, fans of war games like Chainmail created a game that would become one of the most popular in history.  Dungeons and Dragons was published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc in 1974, and was created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.  The venture was a risk, but one that ultimately paid off for the fledgling company that would later be known as TSR.  During it’s time, TSR released three versions of the game, over the course of 23 years, and sold to Wizards of the Coast in 1997 who has put out four versions of the game in less time.  The game sparked an industry that has become massive, but, despite stiff competition, D&D still remains the most well-known – and popular – tabletop RPG.

Like a lot of people, my introduction into tabletop RPGs was with Dungeons and Dragons, and I got in at the tender age of 14.  I was on vacation with my folks, back in the town I grew up in but no longer called home.  Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition had just been released, and a buddy of mine I’d known since elementary school – and kept in touch with despite distance – invited me over to play a game with his friends.  We rolled up a character for me, a draconian named Ayla (I was reading Valley of the Horses on that vacation) and we set about having a great afternoon of fun.  Little did I know that day would spark my love for a hobby that I still carry 26 years later.

It was an interesting time to get involved in this hobby; a transition period of sorts, when D&D was just starting to change its image and become more popular with groups of younger players.  The game was beginning to climb out of a dark period of paranoia, ignorance and outright hate surrounding ideas of what people thought the game was.  Many people were afraid of it due to simple ignorance.  I knew a lot of friends who had to hide the fact they played D&D from their parents, and others who got in trouble when their books were found.  Non-gamers like Jack T. Chick and Patricia Pulling were outright spreading lies about the game, linking it to the occult, devil worship, and witchcraft to try and keep people away from the game.

Patricia is infamous for starting Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons, or BADD, in 1982 after her son committed suicide.  She believed that a D&D curse was placed on her son at school, which led to his death, and even sued the school principle for wrongful death and then sued TSR.  I presume the kids played at school.  She started BADD after the suits were thrown out, and used the advocacy group to push the idea that D&D caused children to participate in all manner of awful activity including rape, murder, Satanism and suicide.  During the course of the case, several reporters disproved her claims, including one report by Michael A. Stackpole which showed that players of the game were far less likely to commit suicide than non-gamers.  When Pulling died, BADD evaporated, but it continued through my early years of playing D&D.

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