Tag Archives: Gary Games

Episode 31 – Essen 2011; Day One

Blimey. Having never been to Essen before, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew it’d be busy, but I didn’t realise quite how busy! I wandered, I played, I chatted away and recorded more interviews than I knew what to do with… so here’s the first of four Essen specials, one for each day! Download directly from here or grab it from iTunes – and why not leave a wee review?

Spiel is the biggest games show in the world with over 100,000 people walking through the doors over the four day event. It’s truly a gaming extravaganza, and even though I was there for the whole thing I honestly reckon I missed loads. Whether it’s board games, card games, RPGs, Live Action Role Play, whatever… Essen is the place to be. Roll on next October and the 2012 event!

This episode has interviews with the following lovely people:

Travis Worthington, head of Indie Boards and Card Games, the makers of Flash Point: Fire Rescue, The Resistance and more – http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/

Kevin Lanzing, designer of Flash Point: Fire Rescue 

Lorenzo Silva, co-designer of Cranio Creations’ Dungeon Fighter – http://www.craniocreations.com/IndexENG.html

Gil d’Orey from Portuguese publisher MESAboardgames, designer of Vintage – http://www.mesaboardgames.pt/

Justin Gary from Gary Games, the fine people behind Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and the new expansion, Storm of Souls – http://www.ascensiongame.com/

Nate Hayden, creator of Cave Evil – http://www.cave-evil.com/

Michel Baudoin from Wacky Works, designer of Space Mazehttp://wackyworks.nl/

I’m joined throughout the four Essen episodes by the mighty Paco from GMS Magazine. Go listen to his podcast and read his fine site! http://www.gmsmagazine.com/

The episode is sponsored by Eagle Games’ new Kickstarter project Pizza Theory – check them out over at http://www.eaglegames.net


Download the episode straight from here – http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/agvpy2/LMD_Episode31.mp3 





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C’mon Kids – Redakai review

Another day, another CCG. Walk into your local hobby shop and you’ll invariably be dazzled by the range of collectible games out there. Throw in the array of Living Card Games and you may well just want to throw the towel in before you even get in on the ground floor, but before you back away slowly in a mix of terror and confusion, I want to talk about Redakai.

Aimed at a younger market than you or I, Redakai isn’t your average card game. A lot of people will take one look at it and instantly dismiss the whole thing. Sure, it’s based on a licensed property. Sure, the game is simple in the extreme. Sure, it’s meant to be for kids. What’s the problem? A good game should be able to stand on its own feet. A good game is a good game, no matter how old the people who play it. And Redakai is a good game. Actually, it’s better than that – it’s one of my favourite CCGs at the moment.

A set of three starting characters. The 3D and lenticular effects of the cards are really excellent - photos don't do the justice!

Based on the cartoon of the same name, two players fight it out in a bid to knock out the opposition’s three characters. Each character has three little yellow bars (their lives, essentially) in the top right corner of their card as well as coloured sections going down the left hand side. These sections, either red, blue or green, have numbers upon them which represent your defensive scores for that character at the time. By playing attacks on your opponent of matching colours (but higher numbers) you’ll be able to chip away at their team, slowly knocking them down.

Attacks are played by spending the in-game currency, called Kairu. Starting the game with a paltry three Kairu, you add one each turn which can be spent on as many (or as few) cards as possible. However, it’s not just offensive moves that are at your disposal – that would make for a rather short game. Your starting characters are actually rather weak little things, but you can augment their powers by playing Monsters on them, boosting their strength and defensive powers as well as potentially granting them special abilities. Transforming your team into powerful beasts while landing increasingly hefty attacks on your opponent is the key to the game, but there are also cards that can be played as instants (called Reacts).

The red marker on the top right means a life is lost thanks to attacks. In the middle our little guy seems to have changed somewhat...

So far, so standard – it’s a solid game and easy to understand (in fact there’s even a stripped down version of the rules for even younger players). Designed by the team at Gary Games (who were also behind the excellent Ascension titles) you would expect the game to work well. So why am I loving Redakai so much? One reason. Redakai has something going for it that will hopefully bring a whole new generation of gamers into the hobby… it looks utterly amazing.

Spin Master and Gary Games have created a CCG that truly looks like no other. Instead of being printed on standard paper cards, each one is on specially designed lenticular plastic that give the effect of 3D. Attacks and Monsters are stacked on top of each other so it actually appears that they’re hitting enemies or changing your own characters – and that is not to be underestimated. Children (and big kids) love cool stuff, and Redakai looks very cool indeed. Combine that with a decent game and you’re on to a winner.

This is (some of) what you get in the Championship Tin set. You don't need all this stuff (it helps though!), but obviously you'll need two decks to play the game...

A minor issue: Redakai isn’t actually officially available outside of North America at the moment. In a recent interview I had with Johnny O’Neal from Spin Master, I was told that it’ll be rolling out worldwide during 2012. In the meantime, you can visit your favourite online auction site to pick it up, and if you are interested in the game I’d suggest you get your hands on the Championship Tin which comes with a decently balanced deck, a box to hide and draw your cards from and a rack to keep them secret.

So, Redakai. A simple game that’s easy to get into and looks fantastic. Best of all, it’s only just beginning. Why not get in on the ground floor?

Redakai was designed by Justin Gary, John Fiorillo and Brian Kibler. It was first published by Spin Master in 2011 and is available widely in the US, but will be making its way around the world next year. For more information, visit the official Redakai Dojo or check out Campfire Burning’s excellent Tales from the Fireside column which is right here!

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Episode 27 – Back to Normality

The Little Metal Dog Show is very much like a London bus – you wait ages for one to show up, then get two within a few days. This one is back to the normal interviews format as I’m joined by the founders of two independent companies who are creating some great games. First of all, from Indie Boards and Cards, I speak to Travis Worthington – currently finishing off their biggest game ever (Flash Point – Fire Rescue), they’re a small company who are responsible for some great titles, especially The Resistance. I also get to talk with Justin Gary, a former Magic: The Gathering pro-tour champion who moved on to designing his own stuff and formed his own company, Gary Games. Makers of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and the follow up Return of the Fallen set, we cover card gaming in all its glory…

You can get the episode from iTunes or download it directly from here. As always, if you’d like to get in touch with the show, if couldn’t be easier – you can email me over on michael@littlemetaldog.com and find me on Twitter under the name of @idlemichael. Do get in touch – it’d be a pleasure to hear from you!

Don’t forget, we’re ramping up for the year’s Essen SPIEL show. I’ll be heading over to Germany to interview as many people as possible, finding out what they’re up to at the moment and what games they have planned for the future. Of course, if you fancy helping out and donating to the show that’d be welcomed – it’s a little difficult walking across the English Channel…

Right. Enough talk, more links!

Indie Boards and Cards site – http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/

Flash Point – Fire Rescue’s Kickstarter site – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2012515236/flash-point-fire-rescue

Gary Games’ / official Ascension site – http://www.ascensiongame.com/

The Story of the GenCon Ascension Championship – http://www.ascensiongame.com/news-archive/item/aaron-sulla-the-godslayer




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Higher Ground – Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer review

I do wonder sometimes how game designers come up with their ideas. Do they have an algorithm that specifically works out the silliness of a backstory to the Nth degree? Do they roll custom made dice covered in words in order to come up with the name? Or do they just drink a lot of beer, take a thesaurus, choose some random entries and hope for the best? Who knows, but ladies and gentlemen – it’s time to look at Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, a brand new deck-building game from first-time publishers Gary Games…

So, what’s different about Ascension then? Can we not just stick with Thunderstone or Dominion? Well, no. First of all, it has roots in the daddy of all deck-builders, Magic The Gathering – it was designed by MTG Tour champions Rob Dougherty, Brian Kibler and Justin Gary (who also founded Gary Games). While this may be their first release, you can tell that they have considered their approach – this is no rush release, thrown together to capitalise on a craze. The team have thought about how the game should play and what to do in order to make it stand out from the crowd.

So, how exactly does it differ? Well, first of all, it’s a simplified take on the genre. Ascension focuses on three areas – Runes (which allow you to buy new cards), Power (for smooshing monsters) and Honor (this game’s take on Victory Points – and yes, I’m using the American spelling as it’s plastered all over the cards and board). Depending on how many players are at the table, a certain amount of Honor points – depicted using little plastic crystals – are set aside. Once these are gone, the game is over – total up how many you have, add on the Honor from the cards in your deck and the highest total is the winner.

There’s no limitation as to what you can do here as long as you have the Runes or Power – unlike in Dominion with it’s one action / one buy mechanic. Similar to other deck-builders, you start with a weak pile of cards, but your purchasing options are slightly different. You always have the option for beefing up your deck by grabbing Mystics (more Runes) or Heavy Infantry (more Power) cards, or beating up the Cultist for a single Honor point, but there’s also The Central Row. This is a bunch of six cards that will cost more Runes or Power to acquire or defeat, but will bring greater rewards – getting rid of one of them will see it’s spot replenished immediately, so judicious decisions can really reap you some good stuff.

Monsters, as mentioned, will at least get you some Honor, but could also allow you to banish a card (chucking it on the Void – this game’s discard pile – which means you can strip out the poorer cards from your deck) or affect another player’s turn. Heroes boost your power, making monsters much easier to despatch, but there’s also another type of card to consider – the Construct.

Constructs are an interesting concept. Where most deck-building games have you discard everything you touch in a turn, the Constructs you manage to get your hands on actually stay in play, often giving you hefty bonuses (especially if you manage to pull a selection together). Other cards in the deck can see Constructs returned back to players’ hands or discard piles, so they won’t always be around – but when they are, you’ll certainly have an advantage.

Games are quick – even a four player effort can be done in 45 minutes. The artwork is good, really showing the differences between the four in-game factions, while the cards and board are great quality – satisfyingly heavy and made to last (although you can get Ascension branded card sleeves if you so desire). Some of the flavour text is a bit cheesey, but it doesn’t detract from the game. Also, while it’s not a bad thing, you can tell that the whole game has been put together with expansion in mind, but what do you expect from a design team with such a huge love for MTG?

Michael has lots of Constructs! Michael will lose this game by one point! Michael is sad.

So, is it worth picking up? I reckon so. If anything, it’s a good introduction into the deck-building genre and plays quicker than Dominion or Thunderstone – the level of simplicity is incredibly appealing… hell, the rules to the game are so easy they’re printed on the board. Twice. After a few plays you’ll find yourself working out strategies rather than just going for The Big Stuff – will you focus specifically on on faction or go for a range of different ones? Keep an eye on what your opponents are picking up though – remember that the winner is the highest total Honor points, and that includes crystals and cards. All in all, an awful lot deeper than first impressions portray – the more I play it, the more I enjoy it. Ascension will be coming to the table pretty regularly, I think.

Ascension: Chronicles of the Godslayer is published by Gary Games, and will be available here in the UK from August 31st. Designed by Brian Kibler, John Fiorillo, Justin Gary and Robert Dougherty (with art by Eric Sabee) – there’s no word on price yet, but looking at what it’s going for in the US, it’ll probably be around £30. Cheers for reading!


edit: My oh my. Months on and I’m still playing Ascension – and now you can do it on iOS devices too! There’s an excellent conversion of it available now on iPhone and iPad, complete with asynchronous play (in other words, you don’t have to all be playing at the same time and it’ll notify you when it’s your turn)! If you fancy a game, give me a shout – my username is idlemichael. Just ask me on Twitter!

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