Tag Archives: card games

Episode 77 – Accessing The Agents!

Two new interviews on your favourite Little Metal Dog Show this time around! First of all I get to speak to Richard and Emily Gibbs from 64oz. Games, the team behind a new Kickstarter project that aims to make the games we love accessible to blind and partially sighted players through the use of Braille. It’s an excellent project and I definitely recommend checking it out – we’ll also be working with them in the future to make our own releases from Sprocket Games accessible too! I also get to speak to the man behind The Agents which blew up last year into something of a phenomenon. Saar Shai joins me to discuss the game, the campaign, and his plans for the future…

Links? We got your links right here, buddy.

Download the show from iTunes or get it direct – http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/dpr4x3/LMD_Episode77.mp3

Visit the Sprocket Games Of Mice And Lemmings page (seriously, it’s a really good game!) – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/108292040/of-mice-and-lemmings-from-scott-almes-and-sprocket

Visit 64oz Games’ Kickstarter, making games Blind Accessible! – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/64ouncegames/board-games-now-blind-accessible?ref=live

Saar Shai’s The Agents site – http://www.playtheagents.com/

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Episode 39 – An Episode You Can’t Refuse

Time for another episode, and this one’s another Triple Threat!

First up, I get to speak with Gary Weis, the Chief Technical Officer at iOS developer Playdek. They’re really making a push to get quality games onto your iPhone and iPad and are already responsible for the excellent conversions of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and Food Fight. With upcoming versions of Nightfall and Agricola on the way, we talk about how you transfer something from a tabletop to the palm of your hand and still make it fun. After that, Jump Gate designer Matt Worden joins me to discuss how he managed to handcraft a game that ended up becoming Games Magazine’s GOTY in 2011, as well as his plans for the future.

Finally, the devious duo of Steve “Voice of Ameritrash” Avery and Tom “Dice Tower” Vasel come along to discuss their forthcoming game Capo. Players who enjoy taking their opponents down a few steps will love this one as there’s plenty of opportunity to screw them over… but I’ll let the guys tell you all about it.

Et voila! This episode’s links:

Direct download link: http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/8j2bxv/LMD_Episode39.mp3

Our lovely sponsor for this show, Continue Magazine: http://www.continuemag.com/

Ace of Spies BGG entry (don’t forget, Kickstarter launches on April 20th!): http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/114316/ace-of-spies

Ace of Spies on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ace_of_Spies

Playdek’s site: http://www.playdekgames.com/

Matt Worden Games: http://mwgames.com/

The Dice Tower: http://dicetower.com/

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Episode 36 – A Few Good (Mad) Men

So here it is, the first Little Metal Dog Show of 2012, and my oh my, it’s a doozy.

I’m joined by three upstanding gentlemen to discuss the gaming year that was 2011, talking about our favourite games that we’ve played as well as a few of the terrible ones. Steve, Ben, Campfire and myself also look to the future (well, this year) and reveal some of the titles that we’re looking forward to getting to try out in the coming months. Oh, and I’m also joined by a certain Rich Sommer. “Who he?” I hear you ask, “His name sounds familiar!” Well it bloody should, for he plays Harry Crane in the rather splendid TV show Mad Men as well as acting as gaming evangelist-in-residence on US network G4. Enjoy!

This episode’s links are here – hoorah!

Direct download: http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/3gafhh/LMD_Episode36.mp3

Summoner Wars from Plaid Hat Games: http://www.plaidhatgames.com/sum_home.html

Caveman Curling from Eagle Games – Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/167427101/caveman-curling-a-game-of-stones?ref=live

Rich Sommer’s rather splendid games blog: http://games.richsommer.com/

Rich on G4TV: http://www.g4tv.com/videos/55658/game-night-with-rich-sommer/

Rich’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/richsommer

Campfire’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/campfireburning

Steve’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/moosegrinder

Ben’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/JoyrexJ9

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Episode 34 – Essen 2011: Day Four

The final episode of The Little Metal Dog Show’s coverage of the 2011 Spiel event brings you another selection of interviews straight from the show floor with designers old and new, all talking about the games that have brought them to Essen. From first time visitors to experienced industry veterans, everything you need to know about some of the most exciting games of the year is here. Grab it from iTunes or download it from here!

The fine people involved in this show are:

Jiří Mikoláš from Jira’s Games, talking about Space Bastards

Anne Cecile from Ludonaute, makers of Shitenno

Bezier Games‘ founder Ted Alspach (and here’s the Kickstarter link for his latest game, Mutant Meeples!)

The legendary Friedemann Friese from 2F Spiele

Kathrin Nos from German boardgame magazine Fairplay

Swan Panasia‘s very own Johannes aka: Joyo!

Konstantinos Kokkinis of Artipia Games (makers of Drum Roll!)

The mighty Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games

Though he’s not on this episode (as he ran away halfway through the day!), don’t forget to check out Paco’s excellent podcast and site: G*M*S Magazine – you won’t regret it!

Thanks as always to our podcast sponsors for this episode too: Eagle Games, makers of Pizza Theory (here’s the Kickstarter page) and Plaid Hat GamesDungeon Run.

Next episode will see The Little Metal Dog Show returning to a vague approximation of normality… see you then!

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Tales from the Fireside – Thematic Atac

Another Tale from the Fireside, in which Campfire recieves a gift that gets him to thinking…

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The first thing I do whenever hearing about a new game is check to see whether it’s a thematic title or not. I’ll do this before noting the kind of gameplay in it, its cost or even its title. It could be called The Free Sex and Chocolate Adventuregasm, but unless it’s a thematic game, I probably won’t be interested.

It’s not that all abstract games are bad. Take Quarto, for instance. I’ve played a bit of Quarto, and I quite like it. It’s a multidimensional take on Connect 4, where you and your opponent take turns placing pieces on a grid. Each piece is unique, but all share certain characteristics with the other pieces in the game. So, half the pieces have holes in them and half don’t, half are round and half are square, half are white and half are black, and half are tall while the other half are squat – but there’s only one short, square, black piece with a hole in it, just as there’s only one tall, round, white piece without a hole in it. Like Connect 4, the object of the game is to line four pieces with a similar characteristic across the board, but – and here’s the clever part – you don’t choose which piece you put down; you choose which piece your opponent puts down, and she chooses where to put it.

It’s a devious game about laying traps for your partner to blunder into, and it’s a lot of fun. But there’s something missing.

There’s been a lot of discussion in board gaming circles about what constitutes a thematic game. Here’s my answer:

Thematic games are built around your imagination.

When I play Quarto, I don’t use my imagination for anything other than than strategy. I’ll imagine what I might do if my opponent moves her piece here, and guess what I’ll do if she chooses that piece for me to play – but that’s where my imagination ends.

Last week, Boss Michael sent me two starter decks for a mid-90s trading card game called Netrunner. Netrunner is a thematic game. In fact it’s difficult to imagine a game more thematic than Netrunner. The game’s so entrenched in its own theme that its rules are written in a dense jargon that requires its own glossary. If you don’t understand that jargon and the world in which Netrunner is set, you won’t understand the game.

I love that about it. I haven’t even played a full game of Netrunner yet, but I love the jargon and the world; I love the theme, and the theme makes the game.

In Netrunner, you and your opponent play as a Corporation trying to protect its secrets and a hacker trying to steal them. The opposing sides play differently. Corporate relies on bluff and subterfuge; Corporate cards are played face side down, and their effects aren’t revealed until the hacker accesses them or the Corporate player ‘rezes’ them by paying money to put them into play.

Meanwhile, the hacker – or Runner, as she’s known in the game – places cards representing pieces of software and hardware, and uses them to probe Corporate’s defenses. Eventually, once she’s gathered a suitable set of tools and thinks her hand is strong enough, she’ll make an all-out attack against Corporate to steal its secret Agendas.

Every stat and card type used on either side of the game has its own jargon name. The Runner’s card deck is called the Stack. She can install Program cards, and pay a cash value from her Bit pool to use them to search through the Stack for Hardware that will boost her attack, or other Programs to neutralise the effects – or Subroutines – of Corporate’s defense cards – or ICE, as they’re known.

Corporate’s deck of cards is called R&D – Research and Development. Every card the Corporate player draws from it represents a new product cooked up by the boffins down in the basement of the Corporate building. Corporate’s own cash pool of Bits represents far more wealth than the Runner’s. The Bit Pool and Corporate’s hand of cards are collectively known as HQ – they’re Corporate Headquarters. The Corporate player must install ICE defenses such as Sentries and Firewalls in front of HQ and R&D to prevent the Runner stealing Agendas, and from generally messing up his strategies.

Corporate can also create Subsidiary Data Fortresses by installing Agendas – the source of Agenda Points, which are used to score the game – and protecting them with ICE. Corporate can also install ICE on his discard pile – the Archives – to stop the Runner stealing old cards he’s discarded, but which might still be worth points.

If all this sounds complicated, well, it is. But by having this immersive story and world wrapped around the game’s mechanics, placing cards and making moves takes on a new meaning. As a Corporate player I could bluff the Runner by placing a worthless Agenda – a Commercial, say – as a Subsidiary Data Fortress, and protecting it with Tracer ICE to distract her from making a Run on HQ, where I hold a valuable Agenda in my hand. When the Runner makes a Run on that decoy Data Fortress, she wastes her turns stealing something ridiculous like one of those banner adverts for Thai Bride dating agencies, and goes away with a Trace on her which allow me to send cops after her, who’ll shoot her in the face, inflicting Meat Damage.

But then, on the Runner’s turn, she plays a Prep card allowing her to escape the trace on one of those kick-ass motorcycles from Akira, and busts open my HQ’s defences with a Virus that leaves Looney Tunes cartoons on all my computers while she steals a load of money.

Yes, it requires a bit of imagination to see the game like that, but the commercial, the ICE, the bike and the cartoons – they’re all there in the game. The cards even have little return keys on them, to signify using an action. It’s all too easy to imagine some grungy hacker chick with braids and over-sized scarlet-tinted goggles knocking back Mountain Dew and tapping the return key on her keyboard, to flood a corporation’s e-mail system with spam.

Netrunner is 90s cyberpunk par excellence. Its world of day-glo hair extensions and sleek slabs of hardware isn’t an afterthought; it’s the heart of the game. There are lots of abstract games that have had thematic makeovers to appeal to this or that pop culture phenomenon – you could argue that The Simpsons Chess is a thematic game, although I imagine you’d have a problem explaining why there are sixteen Maggies on the board, or why Bart can only move diagonally. But Net Runner wouldn’t work as a card game without its theme. Every card you play corresponds to an action inside its fictional world, and when your game’s done, you won’t be talking about the great hands you’ve had and the cards you’ve played; instead you’ll boast about the time an impudent hacker thought she could steal your Bioweapons research, and your Lich-designated black ICE left her brain-dead and drooling beneath her cybernetic implants.

And that’s something that won’t happen even in the most heated game of Quarto.

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Email campfire@littlemetaldog.com with your thoughts. He’d love to hear from you, honestly.

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