Seventh Skill Slot in Diablo 3? Yes, please and thank you.

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I’ve been playing the Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls closed beta for about the past month. There’s been a lot of interesting developments in this expansion and there’s still three months until it is released. There’s a lot of time for D3 to evolve even more, and I think there is something in particular this game could really use…

There should be a seventh skill slot

Just like the Auction House, Blizzard is way off on this. Players really need an additional active skill slot in this expansion. I’ve always felt six was limiting, especially when you have such an amazing selection of skills to choose from. Limiting the skills to six may have been in consideration for consoles, or too convoluted for skill loadout selection, but I think these factors were incorrect in their consideration.

So much of Diablo 3’s story felt like Call of Duty. You were getting command barked at you a lot, you have no sense of self-agency. I half-expected Tyrael to say “Would you kindly?” because of the lack of freewill this story infuses into you. Call of Duty is also kind of famous for assuming its audiences aren’t smart enough to handle a bit more depth. I feel like Blizzard is assuming that most the playerbase can’t handle how much complexity another skill slot would bring.

Simply put, it would be really fun to have another button to hit once in awhile to do cool stuff in combat. Diablo 3 needs to avoid stagnation, I don’t feel like ROS is going to deliver everything that D3 needs. ROS is more like a reboot, which does a lot of things it needs to, but still problematic. The implementation of the original Auction House not only hurt gameplay in terms of the treasure hunt, it also kept features like “smart drops” from having been developed much earlier. If there was no AH from the start, imagine what Blizzard could have already developed in the past couple of years?

A seventh skill slot would make ALLLLLLLLLLLLL of this melt by the wayside, because that is something that will make players salivate. Gimme gimme gimme.

With my Monk, I would equip Ascension or Mystic Ally in a seventh skill slot. The changes to Mystic Ally are freaking amazing, but I still can’t bring myself to replace my Mantra. Mystic Ally is a visually varied skill that, even if every Monk equipped it in this seventh skill slot there would still be plenty of difference between players. Ascension is also pretty cool, but I have a problem with big cooldown skills eating up my action bar when I want to maximize my second-to-second combat options. I also often wish I could have another spirit generator, because Fists of Thunder feels kind of essential. Teleporting to enemies and dealing area damage is just too damn handy. If I could just use Fists of Thunder to close in the distance, I could switch to a different spirit generator skill when I’m within range. I could even equip Tempest Rush in the additional skill slot, giving me the additional mobility needed to free me up to pick Crippling Wave or Deadly Reach instead of Fists of Thunder.

The fourth passive skill slot was out of necessity

ROS needed that fourth passive skill slot because too many of them felt absolutely essential or you were playing the game wrong. Now, even if some of the broken essential passive skills exist, you still get a lot of room to have fun and choose passive skills you actually want and not just need.

The fact that there are six active skill slots helps keep any one skill from feeling like it completely outweighs all of the others, but there are still a lot of active skills that players can’t get away from. Wizards always use Archon, Monks always use Fists of Thunder and Sweeping Wind, etc. Blizzard likes to throw around numbers, stating “there are a trillion, squillion different factors that make every character different!” but that’s very inaccurate. There is a difference between Effective Customization and Actual Customization. Effective Customization is the things that you feel when you make changes in your character, like a skill rune, a legendary, or a particular combination of stacked equipment effects. There may be a squillion-billion factors to make each character different, but I really feel like there are a few dozen or so different end game builds with very subtle differences.

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Long Cooldowns often feel like a limitation to your toolset

The problem I’ve always had with only six skill slots is that it creates far too much of a value discrepancy with large cooldown skills. Two minutes in Diablo 3 is a really long time, and during a long cooldown it feels like you’ve got a much more limited toolset. Sure you can get a cool 20 second buff, but a lot of skills can grant buffs and be used most of the time. If you accidently use a skill with a long cooldown, it’s not only frustrating because you’re stuck not being able to use it for a really large amount of game time, you are also stuck not being able to replace it with another skill you would prefer out of frustration. ROS has taken some really good steps to make long cooldown skills more appealing, with lots of cooldown reduction found on equipment, in diamonds, and as a part of Paragon traits.

Long Cooldowns are usually the best kind of ridiculous

If you reduce Cooldowns too much, then some of the novelty of these skills wears off, and after 100 hours of gameplay, having a really cool skill to break up the rhythm of combat every minute or two can really help keep things more interesting. The long cooldown abilities are the most over-the-top and satisfying skills in the game. The appeal of these skills is when you see a champion mob, you feel a surge of excitement because that means its time to bust out the big guns. It’s like having a giant “GO TO HELL!” button to the enemies.

Buff skills are just passive skills that go on the action bar

It also is limiting in what skills slots makes a lot of buff skills create a far less actively engaging build. Your toolbox will feel bigger if you have more skills that you use more often. If half your action bar just sits there with the exception of being clicked on every two minutes, you feel like you only have three skills. You’ll click to pick up gold more often than use some of these skills. I think what has been done with Mantra (applying a passive buff with a powerful, short term buff you can spam) was brilliant and should be the basis of all “buff” skills, at least in concept. There shouldn’t be a single buff skill that only has the application of being used every 2 to 10 minutes. Magic Weapon is embarrassingly dull because it is pretty much just another passive skill (I really, really hate Magic Weapon, because it’s been handy to have a lot but the most BORGING skill in the game).

Many players have grown accustomed to the skills they have

When players buy the expansion pack, it isn’t going to feel that cool when they reach level 70 and their character plays the exact same way they did the past 150 hours. Maybe that’s their prerogative to not change because they’ve gotten so used to it, but also ROS doesn’t really add much incentive to experiment (unless it involves one of the many skills that has been altered, which for the Wizard may apply but not so much for many other classes). With another skill slot, most people would probably just slap in the cool new expansion active skill at first, giving them a chance to experiment with it (and making all that work Blizz put into these new skills more worth their time) and then possibly changing their builds around that. Heck, just gaining access to a new active skill slot may be enough to encourage players to try completely new builds. A new active skill slot would really freshen up the game, make it feel really new again. And, as is the state of ROS currently, it doesn’t feel that cool to gain nothing but runes for a single skill over ten levels. That fourth passive skill slot is the cherry on top. Unfortunately, the fourth passive skill slot is what is going to really appeal to most players actual, not the new active skills.

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But new Legendaries encourage new builds

The acquisition rate of legendaries that will truly change a player’s build will always be too slow at maximum level to really motivate a player. Legendaries can’t drop too often or they no longer feel special, but if you don’t get enough legendaries after putting in some time, ROS may leave players feeling like they’re just playing the exact same character. If you turn off all the numbers floating around, you really have a hard time seeing the difference ROS equipment makes for your character. It just feels like the usual level curve equipment replacement that I feel every time I play a WoW expansion, but way more tragic. Loot is the soul of Diablo 3, so having to ditch your coolest stuff for the new expansion makes it less appealing to buy.

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Hook the player and they will keep coming back for more

Someone who has put in hundreds hours in Diablo 3 already isn’t going to be super happy to have to replace all their hard earned equipment with what feels like crappier equipment. There’s a sense of dread reaching 70 again and starting endgame over, and your still using the same skills you have in the past. How different is the game going to feel with that character once you put in another 60 hours? You’ll replace one skill maybe because of a legendary you found? Is that worth the time and effort? What is worth the time and effort is if you got a seventh skill slot in addition to the new skill and the new passive skill slot for playing, what, maybe twenty hours to get from level 60 to 70? That is where you HOOK the player in. Once you give them those super sexy incentives that really change the game and make your character feel new again, then legendaries will be incredibly exciting. Not only will legendary items have a chance of moving you away from your old skill loadout, it can effect what you do with that new and exciting seventh skill slot.

I really think if you gave a seventh skill slot, it would triple the enjoyment I have of this game. The best thing about Diablo 3 are the active skills. It is ingenious and the best skill customization system I have ever seen. Adding another active skill slot helps emphasis what makes Diablo 3 fun: using your character’s powerful spells and abilities to annihilate hordes of monsters.

Holiday Sickness

Sorry for the lack of updates! Holiday crap + flu = internet paralysis. Vomiting ain’t fun. The next page of the comic will be in black and white, which I apologize for, but I figured it is better to just go ahead and get it out there instead of delaying things even further. You’ll probably see more black and white comics in the future. I’ll still definitely color certain pages that I think have more exceptional visuals. Whenever all this stuff goes to print it will ALL be in color, I guarantee it.

Hope you enjoyed the holidays!

Dishonored: Being good has never felt so stupid

Everyone seems to be obsessed with how awesome teleporting around in Dishonored is. I just found it boring as hell after awhile. They went through a lot of trouble to make Corvo a pretty nimble dude, capable of double jumps, sliding and dashing. Blink makes all of that stuff feel mostly pointless. Running and jumping is only something you resort to when you are out of mana, which happens A LOT. You end up waiting around for your mana to recover when you should just be playing. I mean, you can just go ahead without blink, but the game is challenging enough where you feel kind of dumb when you aren’t using blink, because you are often slower and less stealthy when you don’t use it.

Maybe if I was willing to play the game “wrong” and just kill everyone and not worry about sneaking around so much this wouldn’t be such a problem. BUT IT IS A STEALTH GAME. It actively discourages you from playing with all of its murder toys, punishing your score at the end of the level and ultimately giving you a darker ending. And these guards are evil! They’re often forcing civilians to give them money or just outright kill them. Why is the game going to make me feel bad for killing THESE assholes? I killed hundreds of guards in Metal Gear Solid 3 and you know how the game addressed it? By giving me the title of “Shark” at the end of the game. Thank you game. I did play it like a shark. I was very sneaky, but murderous as hell. Dishonored just makes me feel like a jerk if I take that approach.

Fine. I’ll play by your stupid rules, Dishonored. If you don’t want me to kill people, I’ll do my best to take the non-lethal approach, even though it is clearly the least fun way to play. You give me 400 ways to kill people and two ways to knock them out. Woo. If you don’t want me to kill people, then don’t have me kill people. It worked in Batman: Arkham City, a game that gives you thirty trillion ways to take out bad guys, all in non-lethal ways. Playing as Batman, you feel like a predator and it is absolutely satisfying.

I tend to want to be a hero in the games I play, even when the game discourages it. I was the one weirdo that played Prototype and avoided killing civilians, netting me a neat achievement (LINK). But I felt clever for taking that approach, like I had to be even smarter with all my tools, not use fewer of them. Dishonored has the option to play more like a hero, but it just feels like a chore.

Maybe I should just say to hell with it and take the brutal approach. The version of Dishonored I’m currently playing kind of sucks, like I’m forever out of reach of a Wonka-sized variety of death candy.

Live & Let Dice: Interview with the Kobold Quarterly Crew

Kobold Quarterly is a magazine that aims to satisfy every kind of hardcore tabletop RPG fan. It not only has material for Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, but for all kinds of other RPG systems. I discussed KQ with Wolfgang Baur, creator of Kobold Quarterly, and Christina Stiles and Brandon Hodge, editors of the magazine.

Live & Let Dice: What drove you to create Kobold Quarterly?

Wolfgang Baur: Mostly disappointment that Dragon and Dungeon magazines were stopping publication. I wanted a periodical where things could be more experimental, more lively, and less buttoned-down than official hardcover books. Kobold Quarterly was meant to be a PDF fanzine but kind of got out of hand. We’ve interviewed a lot of RPG greats, printed awesome material for Pathfinder and D&D, and generally gotten ourselves into hot water by running with our small-but-fierce indy credo.

These days Kobold Quarterly is looking terrific, but as always, keeping a magazine alive is an issue-by-issue proposition. I’m sort of amazed it has hung on for five years now.

LNLD: How did you guys get involved with Open Design? 

Christina Stiles: One night I was rousted out of bed by these small dragon-like creatures. They said I’d better write for the Kobold Overlord, or I was toast! One of them breathed fire to emphasize that “toast” part. And that’s how it all began….

Okay, well, not really. I’d signed up for one or two patron projects previously, but I never had any free time to get involved with the forums or follow the pitching. I was doing some work for Troll Lord Games and working on my own Rogue Mage game during the project. Then, out of the blue, Wolfgang Baur asked the patrons if anyone wanted to write a short adventure based on a sketch he had in hand. I jumped at the chance, and that became my “Beer Run!” adventure in Kobold Quarterly #16. Since then I’ve done work on the new Zobeck Gazetteer for Pathfinder, the Midgard campaign setting, and the Crossroads Player’s Guide—in addition to trying to maintain a presence in KQ magazine and on the KQ blog. It turns out those kobolds are really likable creatures that are fun to work with. Who knew?

Brandon Hodge: The RPG world can blame the terror I’ve since wreaked on none other than Adam “King of the Monsters” Daigle. He had tried to get me involved with the original Zobeck project, but I didn’t pay attention until he showed me the finished product, and I was not only floored, but incredibly sheepish that I hadn’t heeded his advice and gotten involved. So, I went all in for the next project, Halls of the Mountain King and the rest is history. I pitched the dual Sunken Empires / From Shore to Sea project as a Paizo/Open Design collaborative effort, authored some Kobold Quarterly articles, and in general made a real pain out of myself with weird ideas that should never work, but do. That’s what it’s all about!

LNLD: Christina, Journeys to the West has been immensely successful through Kickstarter. Could you talk a little bit about this adventure module’s history? Is Kickstarter a viable avenue for future independent tabletop game design? 

Christina: Journeys to the West project was Open Design’s first foray into the Kickstarter medium. Going into it, neither of us knew what to expect in terms of possible proceeds. Needless to say, we were blown away by the final result! The additional funds have been well spent on expanding the project’s offerings, of course, and now we have three books, a print map, and several other bits going into our final Journeys bundle.

I don’t know if Open Design will use Kickstarter again, but with a new project on the horizon, I can imagine it will be something definitely considered.  Kickstarter truly does help small companies or individuals attain the money goals they need to pursue RPG-publishing dreams. As more and more people begin to use it, however, overcoming the noise ratio is going to be the problem.

LNLD: Could you tell me more about Rogue Mage? I’m particularly interested in how the game plays, as it looks like its based on the d20 system. Is someone that’s familiar with Pathfinder know how to play pretty easily, or is it a dramatically different take on the original system? 

Christina: Rogue Mage is indeed a d20 game. It’s based off 2nd Edition Mutants & Masterminds, though it has some differences. Anyone familiar with Pathfinder or 3rd Edition D&D can easily begin to play it, as the mechanics are very similar. All you need is a twenty-sided die.

LNLD: Wolfgang and Brandon, Could you talk a little bit about the Midgard Campaign Setting? I’ve never quite seen anything like it, where the community can help shape the world to a certain extent. 

Wolfgang: For me, it was a chance to do a few things differently than most fantasy settings: it was a chance to do deep, organic design, to use some different sources of inspiration, and a setting that evolves to suit the DM and his players, rather than being always the groundhog Day campaign, where adventurers save the world, but nothing ever changes.

The Midgard Campaign Setting is worldbuilding the old-fashioned way. It’s based on my home campaign with input from a larger crew. We’re doing it organically. The result is very much in the greatest gaming tradition: classic adventure, with new twists to bring it out of the 80s. You can check it out right now.

Brandon: It seems that most default campaign settings try the “kitchen sink” approach, which wasn’t what patrons wanted from us for Midgard. Now mind you, that doesn’t mean we rewrote things from the ground up. Elves still needed to be elves, dwarves needed to be dwarves, and so on. But the framework of the world around those classic tropes needed to not only turn some conventions on their heads to present fresh ideas, but also synthesize the amazing amount of disparate data that Wolfgang, myself, and a multitude of others have contributed to the open campaign setting for the last several years. It was a harrowing challenge, to say the least!

LNLD: I can understand Kobold Quarter getting into hot water, as there is quite a disparage between Pathfinder and 4th Edition D&D fans. Your magazine is like a line in between both. What are your thoughts on D&D Next? You’ve watched the evolution of both Pathfinder and 4E very closely, so I imagine you’d have some very good insight on the subject.

Wolfgang: Personally, I’m quite excited by D&D Next, as it might be a “best of both worlds” game that brings gamers together in peace and unity for good gaming. But based on past experience we should expect it to be burnt in effigy before it ever released. Gamers are pretty passionate about their games and sometimes we lose track of priorities. It’s going to be a long wait.

I suspect it’s going to be great, an effort to make something playable that wins back alienated fans, including some who never made the leap to 3rd Edition or 4th Edition. But I’ll withhold further commentary until there’s more concrete information about it and about the options for publishing for it. It could still go horribly, horribly wrong.

LNLD: Are there other upcoming projects from Open Design that you would like to talk about?

Wolfgang: There’s always about six things cooking for me. Most recently, I spilled the beans on a few secrets of game design in the Complete Kobold Guide to RPG Design. It’s a book about designing better adventures and homebrew materials for yourself, plus advice on how to break into the industry and the challenges of freelance careers in tabletop gaming.

There’s also my home setting of the last five years translated into Pathfinder RPG terms, the 120-page, fully-indexed Zobeck Gazetteer. It is a city meant to be full of playable fantasy. It has a kobold ghetto, a mouse king, clockwork creatures and an Arcane Collegium that are all part of a crossroads city crying out for adventurers.

Kobold Quarterly is a great magazine for any Pathfinder or old school tabletop player, with materials to inspire you as a GM that include some new twists for players and groups as well. I’m very fond of it. Give it a look in PDF or print.

LNLD: Thanks for all the great responses! I definitely want to keep in contact so I can know what’s coming up in Kobold Quarterly and Open Design. You guys have a lot of cool stuff in the works.

Wolfgang: Thanks!

If you’re interested in Kobold Quarterly and would like to learn more, go here for more details.

Live & Let Dice: Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium Review

A common complaint about 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons is that its magic items don’t feel all that magical. They resemble items you’d more often find in a game like World of Warcraft than a tabletop RPG, very useful only in combat while devoid of background and story-driving potential. The game manual Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium addresses this by offering creative new items with more interesting effects and some deep, rich history.

THE SCORES

 Presentation: 7 out of 10

The book’s cover conveys well what awaits inside: A bunch of items. I would have liked to see the wizard Mordenkainen grace this cover, especially considering when you open up the book, the first illustration is a glorious rendering of the character. The Adventurer’s Vault 2 had a much better cover, which was a nod to a previous piece of D&D art.

The rest of the interior art is almost as striking, although I would have liked to see more of it. Some imagery doesn’t convey specific items explicitly enough for me to get a feel for what they physically must be like, like the illustration for a Weapon of Defense. What is it? William O’Connor’s intro art for the implements section, on the other hand, clearly shows a spellcaster wielding two magic weapons that repel a creature with their power. I’m bummed they didn’t have any art for artifacts or cursed items. Seeing a cursed item at work would have made for a great or funny illustration – a sorely missed opportunity.

Appeal: 7 out of 10

Primarily, this is a Dungeon Master’s tome for treasure he or she might add throughout a game. The book has sections dedicated to curses and story hooks the DM can add to any magic item to create additional intrigue. There’s also a section on gaining followers that works nicely, especially considering how incredibly convoluted the Leadership feat made it back in 3rd Edition D&D. Trust me, it was so awful that you don’t even want to know.

Replayability: 9 out of 10

Although not filled with as many items as other books like the Adventurer’s Vault, it still presents so many that you’ll never get around to seeing most in a single campaign. Throw in the fact that a DM should use thought and creativity when dropping these items into a game, and this book could last you a very long time.

Innovation: 8 out of 10

The book is written as if the arch-mage Mordenkainen were telling you stories about these treasures. This injects personality into what most RPG game manuals present as cut and dry material.

Clarity: 10 out of 10

Most 4th Edition D&D books really nail layout and design, and this book is no exception. It is concise, beautiful, and easy to understand. They’ve created extra space for more interesting details like the lore of a weapon instead of its attack and damage bonuses.

Fun: 9 out of 10

This book achieves its purpose by bringing mythos back to magic items. Everything in here has gravitas. Treasure hunting adventures become grander tales than just the acquisition of stuff. The book gives the items the same sense of history that Indiana Jones gives an ancient clay pot when he describes it to his students. The histories plant seeds for further adventures that could revolve around these relics.

Verdict: Buy it new!

Too see a spiritual successor to this book would be fantastic. Even with D&D Next somewhere vaguely on the horizon, books like this still deserve our attention.  If you’d like to grab a copy, you can buy it here.

This review is about products supplied by 360 Public Relations, representatives of Wizards of the Coast.

Interview: Cutthroat Caverns Creator Curt Covert

Curt Covert is the founder and core game designer at Smirk & Dagger Games. His games include Hex*Hex, Sutakku, Shootin’ Ladders: Frag Fest, Dead Hand Chaos Poker, and their most successful game Cutthroat Caverns. His many games emphasize stabbing your friends in the back while having a good laugh about it.

Live & Let Dice: When did you start Smirk & Dagger Games? How did it come about?

Curt Covert: Ha! Long story. I’ll hit the high notes. I started Smirk & Dagger in 2002, while I was trying to design my first original game. I had created and web-published fan expansions for other popular games over the years and had just come off a two-year project to continue work on the game Star Trek Red Alert, a DiskWars game that was discontinued months after release due to contract issues with Paramount. The designers had published the data for a planned expansion. I loved the game and was an accomplished graphic designer, so I web published the expansion to a degree of quality that was almost indistinguishable from the original set. I led a small group of fans in expanding the game even further with our own work. It was so much fun. After two years, someone asked why I didn’t pour all the time and energy into a design of my own. So I tried.

The first two or three designs for games were so horrible, they made my skin crawl. They looked good, had good themes, but played like sucky four-player solitaire games. It was an arduous eight months with nothing to show for it.

So I asked myself, “If I were a game company, what would I do to stand out among everyone else? What would I stand for? What do I love most about games that I could ‘own’ in the industry?” Well, I’ve always loved ‘gotcha games.’ Wiz-War has always been a favorite and continues to be an inspiration. Why not center my company’s vision around stabbing a friend in the back and smiling while doing it? Hence, Smirk and Dagger was born.

LNLD: Are you the only game designer of these games or do you have a team that helps with it? 

Covert: A good friend of mine, Justin Brunetto, has been with me since the beginning. He kicks the tires, tells me what’s wrong, and generally co-develops our games once I’ve got the nuts and bolts locked down. In addition, he is at all our convention appearances and the company would not be the same without him. He is the ‘Dagger’ to my ‘Smirk.’

LNLD: What can you tell me about Cutthroat Caverns? I like the idea of embracing the competitive nature of treasure hunting in something akin to Dungeons & Dragons. The group I play D&D with is definitely like that already, so something like this sounds like more gas on the fire. And that’s always fun. 

Covert: Cutthroat Caverns is by far our most critically acclaimed title. The game focuses on what is a fairly common shared experience in the formative years of most role players. Like many, my young group took a page from Tolkien in setting up our characters and their interactions. It was all “one for all, and all for one” and lawful good adventuring. Then one day one of our guys convinces the DM to let him run a Chaotic Evil assassin. In those simple, innocent days, the shock and horror of suddenly realizing that other players could be more dangerous than the monsters you face, that the danger from within was more insidious, it was that moment of discovery that I wanted to create and maintain throughout Cutthroat Caverns. Everything in the game is designed to elicit and enhance that feeling.

LNLD: What about the expansions, like Tombs & Tomes and Relics & Ruins?

Covert: The added expansions have also added a few key mechanics to extend replayability, difficulty and even more traditional story telling. This includes some ‘choose your own path’ adventure books that over lay the game, with compelling narrative content, new ways to win and lose, traps and challenges.

LNLD: You’ve given your artists some nice credit on your website. How did you arrange for them to do the art for Cutthroat Caverns?

Covert: I am very obliged to these talented folks and happily showcase them on our site, the cards and in the rules sheet. For Relics and Ruins, which had item cards of magical treasures, I found actual artisans who make armor, swords, rings and the like to showcase their work and direct traffic to their stores to buy a ‘Relic’ from the game. One of these artisans even renamed his bracers to match the relic I showcased it as.

LNLD: You recently released a new expansion for Cutthroat Caverns called “Fresh Meat” that lets you make your own character.

Covert: This is an expansion I’ve had on the books for at least three years that delivers what fans have wanted from the start: unique characters. Justin and I had heated debates on this in the development of the core game. He, quite rightly, argued that people playing dungeon crawl games want characters that are more than generic, that have unique abilities and stats. I dug in my heels that our game was about what despicable things players would do to each other, not what special things their character could do. I never wanted someone to say, ‘”If I’m not the Dwarf, I’m not playing”.

That said, I finally arrived at a solution I am comfortable with. Essentially, you trade life for abilities. Load up on special traits and you gimp your life total. Plus, Fresh Meat comes with more Encounters, Events, Relics and even seven new cards for the main play deck. It will all come boxed in an oversized box you can store everything in.

LNLD: Which conventions do you and/or Justin usually end up at?

Covert: Gen Con is our big event every year and we will have a much expanded booth this year. The others are smaller local cons like DexCon, Dreamation, Metatopia, & ConnectiCon.

LNLD: I think that about does it, Curt. Thanks! You’ve got an awesome catalogue of games under your belt.

Covert: Hope you enjoy them!

If you’re interested in Smirk & Dagger Games and would like to learn more about Curt Covert, visit the company’s website for more details.

 

Why Aren’t You Playing Magic: The Gathering?

I feel strange trying to write a review about a game that, no matter what my opinion it may be, fans will go out and buy it. I don’t blame them either. Every year Magic: The Gathering becomes further refined, developing strong thematic sets with clear tactical purpose.

So I won’t write a review. That’s not what you’re reading. Instead, this is a plea to those on the ropes about trying MTG, a plea I hope might abolish certain misconceptions about it.

Buying the game isn’t a random affair. At least, it doesn’t have to be. Booster packs can really be a turnoff for some people. The idea of spending money on something when you don’t know its precise contents is a level of gambling that can be hard to embrace. Fear not! You can get tons of MTG cards without every buying a booster. Intro Sets are not only a great way to avoid these boosters, they offer you the best way to get into the game. You get sixty cards that work very well together, and the best part is that they are all predetermined. You can know exactly what every card in that deck is before every buying it.

You don’t have to treat MTG as a collectible card game. If, after the first set, you find yourself interested in more, you can buy the other Intro Sets to make multiple custom decks.

MTG is a great game. You can get a HUGE number of cards for sixty bucks, the price of a video game. To start off, all you need is $15, the price of a decent meal at Applebee’s.

An even cheaper option to learn MTG lets you play with a wide selection of cards: Duel of the Planeswalkers 2012 for Xbox Live Arcade allows you to play with hundreds of cards for only ten bucks. Even if you already own real MTG cards, it is a great way to learn the rules. So there are a lot of reasons why now is the best time there’s ever been to give Magic: The Gathering a try. You could probably spit in any random direction and hit a friend that knows how to play already.

So really, why aren’t you playing Magic: The Gathering?

Source of images: Wizards of the Coast.