Tuesday, 9 October 2012


So, a long time ago I had a blog. As is the fashion, it was mostly full of whining, but there were a few posts here and there that were both fun to write and provoked a fair bit of discussion from the people that read them. Unsurprisingly (to those of you that know me well), these posts were all about games, either computer or more tabletop-based, and the mechanics and systems of how they worked.

Since I have about an hour a day to burn, and I always want to talk more about the games I'm playing, I figured it might be fun to give it another go. So here it is.

So this first entry has a little more than just a "Hello, World", let me talk a little about the games that are demanding more of my attention right now, and will likely feature again in this blog. This is in no particular order.

1. Blood Bowl
Blood Bowl is a fantasy game of American football. And by fantasy, I mean it has orcs, elves and undead in it.

The game actually plays out as a turn-based strategy game. One 'coach' (the human player) is allowed to move each one of his or her players (the pieces on the pitch), until either the coach elects to end their turn, all their players have moved, or a player screws something up, like falling over or dropping the ball. The success or failure of every action is determined by the virtual roll of a die, and so the coach knows the exact probability of every action before they choose to take it. This means that the game effectively ends up as a series of decisions on risk management. Do you want to make sure that something gets done, but risk ending your turn pretty early? Or do you get those less important, but easier, actions out of the way, knowing that 'easy' never means infallible and you might never reach the more important stuff? On top of the in-match gameplay, your team's players accumulate experience and injuries, and so a major part of the game is the development and continual story of your team over a long period of time.

This is on my list of stuff because I'm in a persistent league where I play a match about once a week.

2. Borderlands
This is a first-person-kill-people-and-take-their-stuff game. Yes, that's really the genre.

It earns special note for being a shooter game in which the shooting is not exactly the satisfying bit, but rather the constant drive to find better equipment and upgrade yourself. It's an RPG with none of the roleplaying and all of the rocket-propelled.

It earns its spot here because I'm meant to be playing it with a friend, and not making nearly the time for it that I should be.

3. Dead or Alive 5
It constantly amazes me that the Dead or Alive series has survived for as long as it has. For those that have never heard of it, it's a 3D fighting game.

From my (admittedly casual) knowledge of the scene, I feel like fighting games generally fit into 3 categories. There's the popular competitive games; the Street Fighters and Tekkens. There's the super-niche ones that nobody sane has heard of, but are very popular in the fighting game community; things like Melty Blood, or the ever-so-slightly more mainstream King of Fighters or Blazblue. And there's the ones that aren't taken so seriously, but maintain a competitive scene and series because they're popular with more mainstream audiences; this is stuff like Marvel vs Capcom, or Soul Calibur.

If DoA can be fit into anywhere, it's probably that last one, but it risks that badly by inviting critical controversy. For example, the first game of the series had 'bouncing breasts' as a major back-of-the-box selling point. And when a series has had not one, but two spinoff games involving the female cast playing beach volleyball, you've got to ask where their priorities lie.

So I was hugely surprised when, among the usual controversy over the latest entry, articles and reviews starting popping up that were throwing on some major praise for the game. I did my research into the competitive side of things and found that even among more serious players, this entry was getting a lot of attention for fixing issues with previous games in the series while still maintaining its own style different to the Tekkens of the world.

Since I was looking for a new game to study and learn, I picked it up, and so far it's proving to be an excellent hobby.

Honorable Mentions: Guild Wars 2 & World of Warcraft
I'm trying to play a fair bit of both of these games (admittedly more WoW than GW2 right now), but neither of them really make me think when they're not right in front of me, so I'll probably not talk about them until I have some specific opinion I want to blab about.

On the Horizon: Crusader Kings 2 & XCOM: Enemy Unknown
One of my favourite blogs to read are the stories that talk about playing through a game with a sort of diary. I very much plan to write that for these 2 games at some point.

And...that's my hour for today. Future entries will likely be shorter on account of being more focussed and less rambly.

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