GenCon Events

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GenCon is coming in August and we’re excited to announce a couple of events we’ll be hosting. August 14th through 17th, we’ll be at the Indianapolis Convention Center with 50,000 other gaming fans. We’d love to see you at either of our events, so stop by and say hello!

Our first event is a panel, “Starting Your Podcast on the Cheap” and will focus on how to get into podcast if you don’t have a lot of money. If you have any interest in making your own podcast or are just curious what it takes to get into podcasting, stop by and join us.

Our second event is a Call of Cthulhu game, “Gatsby and the Great Race”. It’s a unique game and will have open spots for 28 players. Joining those 28 victims, errr investigators, will be the three hosts of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, Matthew Sanderson, Scott Dorward and the adventure author Paul Fricker. We’ll also be joined by Sean Aikins, our Indy PopCon Kickstarter backer.

This is going to be a great convention, so you should stop by and check it out! Hope to see all of you there! If you do run into us, feel free to chat us up about what you like, we’re always happy to hear from fans, listeners and readers.

D&D Starter Set (5th Edition or D&D Next)

It’s been a month shy of 2 years since the last D&D release, so anticipation and expectations were pretty high for this release. I was lucky enough to get a review copy and to give the new Starter Set a run through. This review is not of the D&D Next or 5th edition rules set. That’s something that I will need the entire core books to really evaluate and give a fair opinion. This is only for the D&D Starter Set with a little mention of the D&D Basic Rules PDF.
The box has a couple of things inside. First is dice, a full set of blue dice waits in the box so that no one at the table needs to buy their own, as long as they’re willing to share. Joining the dice are paperback manuals, one covering the basic rules, and the other with the adventure “Lost Mines of Phandelver”. Finally you have 5 pregenerated characters, two fighters, a cleric, a rogue and a wizard. Everything you need to get started on your own adventure.
The rulebook is well laid out. The rules are generally easy to find and with a couple of exceptions, easy to follow the intent and meaning. The system handles a little leveling up, but not much, and it only takes you to level 5 before suggesting you get the Player’s Handbook. There aren’t any character generation rules, so the 5 pregenerated characters are all you have to work with.
The dice are blue, and they’re missing the D% out of the set. Normally I’d let this go, but this is an introduction to gaming in general, and while this system doesn’t require a D%, others do. I think it’s poor form to not include the full set of dice. I might be picking at a small thing here, but it definitely stood out to me.
The adventure looks interesting. I think the story given is a great introduction, and takes place in The Forgotten Realms, so it’s nice to see the Starter Set relying on the most popular setting available. The encouters are laid out with just a couple of notes, and I found that off putting. I miss the days of the RPGA Living Forgotten Realms adventures that had a whole write up for each encounter with tactics and the monster stat blocks listed in the write up. This just doesn’t capture that same feel and all the monsters are in the back alphabetically, so there will be some flipping back and forth.
The adventure is long enough that you should be able to get a total of 5 games, each lasting around 4 hours, out of this box. If your group is anything like mine when we learn a new system, it will take longer than that. However, there are enough monsters in this adventure to make up your own encounters after you’re done with the adventure.
I was disappointed by the monster stat blocks. The went from 4th Edition where everything was crisp and lean and easy to find, back to a 3rd Edition look, where there’s a lot of information to look through before you find what you need. It’s not the end of the world, but I don’t know that it’s the best way to handle things either.
Overall, I’m neither impressed or disappointed. This box is for new players, to D&D or to RPGs at all. Experienced players are potentially going to be frustrated with the lack of choices for their characters while leveling and in character choices in general. Want to play a human rogue, you can’t. Want to play an elf fighter, not an option. It’s a standard starter set, but it could have been more. It definitely could have been a lot worse too.
If you’re an experienced player, this probably isn’t for you. When used in conjunction with the D&D Basic Rules PDF, it’s enough to get you started, but it’s really just a huge tease for when the Player’s Handbook releases on 8/19/14. I can’t recommend this to most gamers I know, because they’ve played D&D before. If someone said to me “I want to get into D&D” this is what I would point them to. I give the D&D Starter Set a 3 out of 5.

The Island of the Day Before

By: Jestin Kimmet

Release Date: 1995
Author: Umberto Eco
Genre: Historical fiction
Main characters: Roberto della Griva, Ferrante della Griva, Father Caspar Wanderdrossel
Page count: 513

What is it: Roberto della Griva, of minor nobility from northern Italy, is given the task to decode the longitude problem during the 17th century. Roberto’s ship sinks early on leaving the poor man out at sea upon a piece of driftwood.  After some time the man, who can’t swim, drifts into a large ship, and climbs aboard.  His heart filled with joy is quickly sunk as he discovers the ship that should have been his savior might have just doomed him.  Not only is the ship abandoned, but there is an island off in the distance he would have made it too had his driftwood not had washed up upon the ship. Continue reading

Monsters University

By Jestin Kimmet

Runtime: 104 minutes
Rated: G
Genre: Comedy/Adventure/Family
Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren

What is it: Monsters University is the prequel to the hit Monsters Inc.  In this story we follow a small often picked on monster struggling to reach out of his means, and his rival a naturally scary and intimidating monster who thinks he can slack his way through school.  We follow the antics of Michael “Mike” Wazowski, James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, and Randall “Randy” Boggs as we learn how these characters evolved into the characters from the first movie. Continue reading

Diamond Digger Saga

By Philip Durham

Developer/Publisher: King
Genres: Video Game, Collapse, Facebook app
Typical Game Length:  2-3 minutes per level
Age Range: All Ages
Difficulty level of game concepts: Basic

Diamond Digger Saga is another game in the stable of games by King, the makers of the ubiquitous Candy Crush Saga.  This is not a swapping game but instead a collapse game with some twists. Continue reading

Obsessive Viewer Podcast

By Matt Quiett
At Indy PopCon there were several podcasts around, and I tried to talk to them all. With as busy as we were at our tables, it really became hit or miss with some of them. Obsessive Viewer had one of the end cap spots on our row, so I got to see their set up every time I went by. I regret not meeting more of them, but Tiny interviewed me for their show, which you can find here. It was great meeting Tiny, and their set up was really professional looking, so I thought that I’d start with them when it came to reviews. Continue reading

Storm Front (A Virgil Flowers Novel)

By Matt Quiett
Author: John Sandford
Date of Publication: October 2013
Major Characters: Virgil Flowers
An archeologist turns up an ancient stele that could change the world forever. Can Virgil Flowers find the archeologist, retrieve the stele and return it to Israel while avoiding all the publicity? I don’t know. I couldn’t bring myself to finish this book. Continue reading

X-Men: Days of Future Past

By Philip Durham

Genre: Superhero Action Movie
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Runtime: 131 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language

The X-Men are back in a movie uniting the cast of the 2000, 2003, and 2006 movies with the cast of the 2011 movie.  The trailers had provided me with mixed feelings; I liked the first two movies as well as the 2011 movie. I wasn’t sure if this movie would be able to successfully blend the two.  Additionally, any movie that decides to include time travel sends up a red flag as that can be extremely tricky to handle correctly. Continue reading