Dog Might Games: Countdown Action Edition Review

Above are my thoughts on Dog Might Games review copy of Countdown Action Edition. I found the game to be to be an excellent party game with a fun theme. One of the best features of Countdown Action Edition as a party game is that no one ever has to sit out till the end of the round. Many of these style games will have a players vote to remove “innocents” in an effort to find the villain or monster. In this game a player “Hostage” that has been released can be secured if the Action Hero thinks that he has made a wrong choice.

The Art

The artwork is wonderful and helps set that action movie vibe.

A Minor Issue I had.

There are only two concerns that I had with the game and both are rather minor.

  • Count Down To Action Edition requires 5 players.
  • There were a small number of cards that I felt broke the sense of theme and mood of the game in play.

Admittedly, the first issue is minor as it is a party game. I only mention it because it impacted the timing of this review. I took it to a local board game night and my own weekly RPG group when I received my copy. Both times I was able to find 4 of us that were willing or eager to play but had issues tracking down a 5th player. I doubt this will happen for most of the time, but it was worth mentioning. Also this comes with the territory of party games.

So really the only issue I would say that I took with the game were a small number of cards that I felt took us out of the moment. There were 5 cards that asked players things like:

  • Who do you think will win the game?
  • what is a card that you passed on?

A similar things along this line. As I say in my video, my suggestion is to just remove them from play if you want deeper RP. Or Keep them in if you are more of a strategy gamer.

Do I recommend it ?

As Far as party games go I highly recommend this one. All of the elements are there to get that thematic RP fun going while playing a wonderfully 80s themed Action movie. You heard it here Dog Might Makes more than just good boxes. Thanks Lumberjacks!

Tips For When Players Sidestep The Plot

Any storyteller will tell you that no matter how hard you try and prepare. Once the game starts everything is out of your hands and the direction the game will take is largely up to your players. Often most games go the way you expect. Resulting in no need to make tweaks to your story as events unfold.

Other times, the players will for whatever reasons of their own, approach the story from a direction that you had never seen coming. It is this moment that your game has gone off the rails. Leaving you to have to make a few quick-thinking decisions to keep the story moving.

The end goal is to guide the players back in the direction of the plot. But how do you go about doing this? Well, there are several ways it can be done.  In this blog, we will discuss a few things that you can do to help you get your game back on track.  I will also outline a few things that you should avoid doing at all costs when this happens at your table.

Things You Can DO

Improvise

Improvisation is a wonderful skill and like any skill it requires practice. The good news is the more that you put this skill to use, the stronger your improv game will get. Inevitably the more you run games the more you will find yourself improvising because the two simply go hand in hand.

Many Game Masters are very intimidated by the mere thought of improvising. Yet, when you sit down and think about it you do it all the time.  Any time a player talks with an NPC in your world it is likely that on some level you are improvising. The same is true when your players inquire what the Blacksmith has for sale or what the Innkeeper is serving that passes for drinks in the local Pub. Likely none of this ever crosses your mind as improv but it is.  You don’t think about it because you have done it so often it has become second nature to you.

Trust in your abilities as a storyteller, your player’s faith in you as a GM, and your knowledge that you know where the stories plot is heading. If you have prepared a strong cast of NPC’s to help move your players in that direction of the story as well as a few side plots planed that can help steer them back to the plot when they wander off script. You will be fine

Run a Prepared Side Plots 

I often have one or two side stories going on in the background of my games for situations where the players go off the rails on me. If you have the luxury of being able to introduce one of this side plots instead of a random encounter this may even buy you an entire game session. Giving you ample time to figure out what you are going to do to steer your players back to your main story.

Ideally, you have prepared some of these in advance they should already be in a position to lead the players back to the main story as these side plots wrap up.

NOTE: Do not run a side quest if it does not fit into the moment, It will feel forced and your players will feel like they are being railroaded. Railroading=BAD. Only do this if you can make the transition feel organic. 

Run a Random Encounter

If you have the opportunity and are in a situation where a random encounter will not feel forced, this is one of the best things you can do as a GM. The use of a random encounter serves you well on many levels.

  1. You are providing your player’s with some in-game action.
  2. You are buying yourself some time to do a little multi-tasking so you can decide how you will address the unexpected direction that the players have taken the story in.

In games like D&D and Pathfinder this option not only will serve to keep the play at the table moving but depending on the level of play and how many players are at your table. This might buy you a considerable amount of time to regroup.

Take a Bathroom/Snack Break

lml3c9z_4880If you find yourself in a place in your story where a Random Encounter would not make much sense and you feel like you only will need a moment or two to collect your thoughts. Call for a bathroom break or hop up and get a drink and a snack. The few moments that it will take for you to step away from the table and get a breath or two of fresh air might be all that you will need to get your creative thoughts going again.

If you find yourself still stumped on the way back to the table, consider a side Plot or a random encounter to give you more time at the table to come up with a plan of action.

Ask your Players For Their Input

There is nothing wrong with asking for the input of your players. They are helping to shape the story with you. This may seem awkward for some old school Game Masters. But many new systems encourage such player input and a few are even build around group storytelling. So if you find yourself stuck ask for some suggestions or party input. You might be surprised at some of the creative ideas your players have floating around on their side of the table.

Politely ask for a few min

Be upfront and honest and tell your players they have thrown you a curve ball. Let them know that you need a moment to look over your notes and figure out just how to proceed from this point. Suggest they take a few min to stretch their legs or grab some snacks while you gather your bearings.

 

Things Not To DO!!

The following are some things that you should absolutely never do. In my years of gaming, I have seen all of these things take place and they destroy player agency and can be utter fun killers.

sbjggcmvr5sxDo Not Put Up Invisible Walls
We all know how frustrating they are in video games, but when a game master puts up invisible walls and tells his players that they simply can’t go that way. It is utterly infuriating.

This is one of the quickest ways to see your entire table collectively sigh and lose complete interest in your game. This solution might work once or twice at your table but it will leave your players feeling like they are stuck in a giant hamster cage.

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Never Railroad The Story
It might seem like the easiest way to get your story back out of the weeds. But your players will resent it. Do it enough and your players will not only resent it but they will grow unmotivated to find their own creative answers to problems in the game. Instead, they will begin to rely on you to spoon feed them the information you want them to follow from plot point to plot point.

Do Not Call The Game
It may seem like a good option to tell your players that they have taken the story in an unexpected direction and you need to time to plan your next move. But before you pull the kill switch on a session of gaming think about this.

Your players have set aside time to be at your game and calling the game will likely leave some players with sour feelings. Also, you have to admit that whatever changes you make to your story to adjust for WHATEVER the players may have thrown at you. It is highly unlikely that you will need several days to make adjustments to account for what has happened.

I can not urge you enough that if you feel like you need to call the game session to sort out what has happened at the table. PLEASE consider instead taking an extended snack break or order a Pizza go out to lunch and have some food for thought. Then regroup in 30 min to an hour. Calling the game, in my opinion, should never be done if at all avoidable.

Note: There are exceptions to every rule. In the past I have called games when things have gone off the rails. For example due to an unexpected combat about to occur at the end of the night due to players choices. In this example, I can only recommend calling the game and ending it as a cliffhanger, due to the fact that your players may not be able to stay late past your normal game time to deal with an extended combat.

 

Please feel free to comment and add your own suggestions to both lists here!

Reflecting on MACE 2017

Ron and Jeff once again put on a great convention in 2017. With a Con over 20 years old, you often know what to expect from Mace. From time to time they embrace change or revisit old ideas from the past from time to time to keep things at the con interesting but the core of the con always remains the same, Its all about the games!

This year was no different, With tons of games lined up for everyone to play most everyone was happily busy all convention long. If it happened that you were between games there were over 50 free to play games this year as well as a large number of game demos being run at MACE 2017 to take part of will your next session started. Not to mention a fair number of vendors selling many awesome things!

This year I found myself with more free time than I usually have at MACE. I think this is due to a few Game Designer friends were not able to make it to the convention this year. Even without their presence MACE 2017 was the host to a TON of new games Many of them having recently run Kickstarters or actively running During the convention. I rounded up the con having the chance to play 2 games that are currently on Kickstarter.
Henchman, Hero’s Crossing & Loot Ninja. Loot Ninja was on, KS but did not make its funding goal.

It was just playing game Demos for me. I ran a game of Tales From The Loop on Friday and I absolutely LOVED IT! This was the first time I have ever run the game at a con or at home and the game went absolutely perfect. The group really got into character and it was one of the highlights of the whole con for me!

The other game that I ran was Star Wars D6 game. I had a great time but where our table was placed and my choice of where to sit at the table put me in the very center of the room. Sadly the volume of all the gamers made it very hard to focus on the game and I had a very hard time hearing two of my quiet players. We were able to power through and at the cost of my voice, the game was excellent as well.

This year saw the return of Pannels at MACE, I for one was very happy to see them come back. This year it was all about crafting with DM Scotty himself attending MACE! I had the pleasure of sitting down with and chatting about his craft and just getting to know him. I hope this kind awesome man will return to MACE in the years to come. he was amazing and the industry needs more people like him!

I did something that I have never done at MACE this year. I tried my hand at being a VENDOR! Many of you know that I have been crafting Crit Candles, D20 Candles with metal D20 dice inside of them. So I grabbed a dozen of them and decided to throw them on a table and see if anyone would be willing to pay me for these things. Expecting nothing and hoping to sell one or two. At the end of the convention, nearly all of them were gone. 8 Crit Candles sold and I traded two with other vendors for products of theirs.

Best of all I got to sit down and spend some time just hanging out with some of the great friends that I only get to see for those 3 days every year. I am glad to be home, and already looking forward to next years MACE.

Great Board Game Find, Scotland Yard

Today while checking out some of my local thrift stores I stumbled on a great deal! I copy of Scotland Yard in perfect order. It looked as if it was maybe played one time ever. So I  picked it up and gave it a new home for well under five dollars! Best yet it seems I got really lucky and my game is not only totally intact but after looking up some images I realised that I got the sweet REAL MR X. hat, and not the terrible cardboard thing that comes in many boxes.

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I have only one game of Scotland Yard under my belt in the past so I am looking forward to getting this on the table and me and my friends giving it a few plays. Like it or hate it as long as we have fun for a game or two this time we will have scored a win! Better yet if we turn out to love it then it will be a game we will keep around the table for years to come.

I have been wanting to try and hook my players with some games of this style for a while and this was an opportunity that could not be missed. I have been wanting to get into a game of Last Friday Night and I am secretly hoping this is the gateway game to get my players motivated to get it.

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So please, pitch in and comment what other great games like this are out there for me put on my radar and look out for. I look forward to coming back soon and letting you all know what my thoughts on the game and if I enjoyed it as much as I hope.

 

Monday Muse on #RPGaDay 2017 Did I feel this year was a sucess?

So as we draw to a close on #RPGaDay2017 I have decided like last year to put my thoughts to a page about the experience. I do this as I find myself a few days behind at this point in the whole thing and there is nothing wrong with that. Honestly, there is no solid time frame out for #RPGaDay just the intent to get gamers talking. Over all now this is the 4th year of RPGaDay, and I have taken part in every one. What are my thoughts on this year compared to previous years questions? As well as Am I still having fun doing them? Will I do

What are my thoughts on this year compared to previous years questions?

Overall, I found myself not as thrilled by the provided questions. I have enjoyed many of the previous year’s questions by comparison. Many of them were this year were intended by request to be a little less deep. I personally think that while a few “softball” questions are fine, this year was too many. Additionally, as my blog turned out to show many of the questions were such softballs that it was hard to bang out more than a few paragraphs worth of blog content for my answers.
I even saw some simply answer inside of the length of a tweet! when you can sum up the reply to several of this year’s questions in 140 characters. Now I know that is a bit lazy and not in the spirit of RPGaDay. But it is worth mentioning that if you can answer a RPGaDay question easily in under 140 characters is it really a good question to ask bloggers and vloggers to talk about for the day?

Am I still having fun doing them?

Yes, I am for the time being. again like years past this one seemed to speed up on me and found me very unprepared. The last two years were much nicer having gotten the questions nearly a week in advance. I think I will set a reminder to be on the lookout for them to get the questions a few days before the start again. It makes things much easier in the long run.

Will I do take part again next year? 

As of this moment, my answer is yes. Might it change? That entirely depends on a few factors. First, next years questions will need a bit more depth to them so that there is something of substance to write about each day. Lastly, if the questions are Meh my current plan will be to answer the ones I like and repost my Fav question of previous years on the other days.

Final Thought

I think my concern with this years #RPGaDay was the lack of interaction. compared to years past my page got far less #RPGaDay traffic and comments than in any year past. I can say that I had some good conversations last year on #RPGaDay but this year I may have only had two commenters on the blog at all. Due in part the questions and a few were talked about on social media and not here.

What it comes down to is can my blogging efforts be better spent on other topics that will bring more views and interest to my page. At the moment I think the answer is firmly in the yes other projects would bring much more traffic to my page as my stats confirm.

If I do these next year I think I will be doing them in a new fassion, vlogging or audio. something other than text. Maybe that will put them into a fromat for me the I will find exciting again.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

#RPGaDay2017 6th Day: You can Game Every day for a Week. Describe What you’d do?

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This one will be posting on a Monday, I still am writing it on Sunday I just don’t want to post it at 10 PM. SO what would I do if I could game for a whole week? The irony of my answer might have my readers question of I am a hardcore gamer or not haha. Because when I think about, what would I play every day for a week solid? I think to myself that I actually would not want to game for a full week straight. I thought for a long time about with that much gaming going on in your life would you take it for granted.

Yet when I think back to my military days while I was stationed at Ft. Stewart for probably a year straight we did exactly what this question asks we played game 7 days a week. Maybe now that I am older I can see how tiring it could be lol. But back then we hit game hard every night of the week. Back then we would play Rifts Monday- Thursday. Friday we would LARP Vampire. Saturday we would play Star Wars till 7 PM and hit LARP again another night. Sundays we rolled Star Wars all day and into the evening.
The games we played were not all ways Rifts or Star Wars, but that was the how we broke the game days up back then.

Since my military days, I still game quite a bit most weeks I am either playing or running in 3 games. For a time I was still pulling down 4 games a week as recently as a six months ago. But with I am going answer this question, not from the mindset of 7 days a week long term. But with the idea that it would once a year or something. So with that kind of a situation in mind, I would love to pick a campaign that I could wrap up from start to finish in 3-4 days. And then take the rest of the week to let one of the other players finish off running games for the rest of the week.