Gaming and Happiness

Once again, I might be full of shit, but what I understand, psychologists studying happiness seem to believe that happiness has to be intrinsic (come from within us) to last. However, right now, most of our society seems to be geared towards getting extrinsic (from outside us) happiness.

This might sound like some New Age garbage, but this wasn’t told to us by the universe (at least not personally), but its a real result of real studies.

So, why am I writing about this in a gaming (sometimes comics) blog?

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Full Session Combat Scene (HeroQuest, Battle of Iceland)

Since I don’t get to GM that much, I do my best to use the opportunities I do have to do something different. I gave the instruction of something like “300 with Vikings” in the beginning to my players.

Mild spoilers on the Battle of Iceland scenario ensue.

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My Favorite Decks from Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir

Sadly, no Conley Woods concontion this time around. He didn’t do very well. I guess the list would be available somewhere, and I bet its interesting, but from what I heard, the land base was just less than 20 mountains, which would seem like some sort of monored heroic deck.

But plenty of great stuff around.

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Boardgames for Families

In advertising families and children are often synonymous. Any movie for children is advertised as a movie for the whole family. I can see why parents (which I’m not) might want to distract the children just long enough to be quiet for a bit, but that shouldn’t be the extent the adult can enjoy the situation. And studios have (sort of) understood this. Most Pixar and many DreamWorks animations take the whole family into account by making the films be more than noise and colors for the kids (which is a way too patronising view of the children anyhow).

But this is about games.

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EDH Pauper Deck Time: Disciple of Deceit

This one is kind of obvious EDH Pauper material. Still, probably a fun deck to build.

The only time I’ve played with Disciple of Deceit was in the prerelease of Journey Into Nyx. Sometimes it was very good, other times it was just a smallish wall. Still, that was sealed and I didn’t have many tools to work with. In EDH this guy will probably shine, especially if I can use him as the commander.

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D&D fifth edition. On characters and design choices

At the point where I am writing this the Dungeon Master’s Guide is not out yet, so this is really too early to form a cohesive opinion about it. My comments will be all over the place; because there is so much that I know that will fit into place only in larger context, and when the game has seen at least a year of usage.

Let’s start with the races. There are all the Tolkienesque races first and after a brief disclaimer the rarer races are introduced. Familiar from D&D4, none of the races get any minuses for their abilities, only bonuses. I like this approach better, as I firmly believe that not handing out bonuses is penalty enough in itself. Dwarves are good fighty types, as much is to be expected. But Mountain dwarf armor training bonus does not mesh with powergaming aspect at all. Same can be said of the half-orc/barbarian combo. Half-orc already has bonuses that a barbarian will get later on, so powergamers won’t get to squeeze all the juice out of it. Wood elves and lightfoot halflings are naturally sneaky and they have Dexterity bonuses as well, so it is a good idea to put them in sneaky classes. There’s no powergaming un-synergy going on in those latter cases. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why!

There’s much unbalance going on here, and it is a good thing in my book! D&D4 tried really hard to be mathematically balanced (without a 100% success, I might add), and ended up being a somewhat bland numbers-crunching game. It is a very good game though, just not for me.

Briefly about the classes. Much has changed, but special mentions go to:

  1. Barbarian. Despite from what is written in the book, the barbarian does not need a high Constitution (at least from where I am looking at things at the moment). They already have the biggest hit die, and proficiency in Constitution saves. Why put a third bonus into the same basket? They get some class features that would enable the barbarian being an unarmored type, but they also get the a similar benefit from using a medium armor. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why!
  2. Fighter. Does not need a high Dexterity. This has been true from the days of D&D3, but now it is even more pronounced. They most probably use heavy armor, so they don’t get to add any Dexterity bonus to Armor Class.
  3. Sorcerer: Oh man I love this. Finally they have realized that sorcerers are all about metamagic! D&D 3.x actually hindered sorcerer’s metamagic usage, and I have no idea what 4e did for them, as I stopped following the line before sorcerer was published.

Right. Onto spells. They have condensed and streamlined whole spell “chains”. Some of the spells are really unbalanced. These unbalances are by design choice. For example, a high level druid could create a whole forest of loyal awakened trees to serve him, without any kind of limiting factor. Why? Because Fuck you, that’s why!

It is as if the design team would have had an epiphany that it is not their problem what goes on in each individual gaming table, it is the job of the dungeon masters to even things out. This is a real improvement to the viewpoint that both 3.x and 4e tried to convey. “We tell you how it is supposed to be played”.

That much said, I must say that I have never been a fan of high level play in D&D. With this edition, I probably wouldn’t go much higher than the 7th level. To conclude, I say that it is very well made, and I will definitely give it a spin someday. There are probably some kinks here and there, but nothing that a little good old fashioned GM work won’t smoothen out.