Origins 2019 is almost here!

Well, this’ll be the 15th year that the Wookie and I have gone to Origins in Columbus – if you’re in the area and love gaming, be sure to check it out!

I’ve signed up for a LOT of Call of Cthulhu RPG games – since I want to run them for our local group, I figure I need to play more and more to become a better Keeper, or DM.

And, oh yeah… Book Cover Reveal!

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Isn’t this a fantastic cover? Here’s the official blurb:

Warrior in Love – Odin’s Bastards, Book Three

Special Agent Trace Dyson races around the world, retrieving priceless artifacts from criminals. But his one dream is to recover a spear, stolen from The Valkyrie’s Tomb. It’s his family’s White Whale, his father and grandfather’s unfulfilled mission––and when he sees a beautiful and mysterious woman steal a bracelet from the tomb’s exhibit, he’s intrigued. Before he takes her to jail, he has a few questions.

Laila Nyland is a Valkyrie on the edge––worn out from her duties, her final mission is to come to Midgard and find a mystical spear lost centuries ago. Forced into a partnership with Trace, she can’t help but be attracted to the hardcore treasure hunter even if he drives her up a wall. The more she learns about him––the harder it is to lie to him about her mission.

Before their secrets rip them apart, these two will be responsible for saving the world––that is if they can trust each other longer than two minutes. 

I really, REALLY liked writing this one because it gave me a chance to get my inner Indiana Jones/Lara Croft out on the page. Along with the Fenris Wolf and Ragnarok. 

It’s the last in the series, and unfortunately the last book at present with Entangled Publishing. With my agents dropping me, it seems I’m back to the start with the writing – however, after 21 books I definitely don’t feel like a n00b anymore.

*chuckles*

But I’ve gotten the rights back to an older book, originally put out by Carina Press – my shifter novel, Blood of the Pride. That’ll be reissued in the fall with a new cover, after I spiff it up a bit – it’s almost ten years old, and technology has come a long way, so I need to update it and clean it up – nice to see my writing skills have gotten better with time!

And I’m working on a new book! About 50K into it – basically, imagine if Meghan had said No to Harry… and ten years later, they meet again, under tragic circumstances. It’s still in rough draft, but we’ll see where it leads to. 

But right now I’m looking at being at Origins in a month! It’ll be my second year there outside of the Library and going as a pure gamer, so I’m going to have some great new game reviews in the future as the Wookie and I drive over with an empty car and come back stuffed to the rooftop with all sorts of games!

🙂

Chat at you later!

Game Review – Pandemic: Fall of Rome from Z-Man Games

If you haven’t played Pandemic, you’ve missed out on a number of great games – starting with the original game, setting you and your friends on a quest to save the world from a rush of different diseases threatening to wipe out civilization. Also available in an electronic version, it’s an addictive game that’ll have your team rushing around the world to save everyone!

The basic game has shifted over the years – from Legacy Season 1 and 2 where every move permanently changed the game board, to introducing Cthulhu and the mission of sealing dark portals. But this newest incarnation, Fall of Rome, might just be the Best One Ever, in my humble opinion.

So what do you get? Check out this faboo board!

As you can see, there’s a lot of the familiar here – the different enemy colors, the city cards and the infection deck, where all the trouble comes from. But this new version introduces something that makes this game unlike any of the others – DICE!

Yes, dice! Never seen before in a Pandemic game, this introduces a whole new aspect of gameplay and makes Fall of Rome more of a wargame than ever. When you enter into battle with your legions against the barbarian tribes (represented by the various colored cubes) you throw as many dice as you have legions with you and the results decide how it went. From losing all of your legions to wiping out the invaders, it brings in a new randomness that can swing the balance of power.

And speaking of legions and characters… take a look at the different events and character cards!

You’ll find many of these familiar, with a twist moving them into the era. Event cards are much the same as previous incarnations of Pandemic, but with one major shift – you can, if you wish, take an even stronger version of the event by using the Corrupt version and move the decline marker down the track on the side of the board, usually called the outbreak track on other version.

The Infection cards are different as well – the barbarians must invade via certain routes, allowing you to possibly break the chain and chase them back away from Rome – because the first time an enemy cube makes it into Rome… the game is lost.

Instead of diseases, your task is to collect enough city cards of a single color to turn the barbarian tribes into allies, allowing you to convert cubes of that color to loyal legions. But they can still sack Rome, so don’t get too complacent that you’ve managed to make a treaty! There are five tribes, with one only needing three city cards to make a treaty with, and others needing five. As you can see, it’s got a lot of the classic Pandemic ruleset, making this an easy game to learn if you’ve got a grasp of the basics.

There’s also solo play, allowing you to be the Emperor and dictating how to rule your empire!

The beautiful artwork, the cool mechanics and the war game feel makes this a Must-Have for anyone who’s a Pandemic fan – or if you enjoy war games, or just a hell of a great game! In my opinion, this is the best incarnation of the Pandemic franchise, and I can’t think of how they’re going to top this one! If you haven’t considered picking this up, check it out for a fabulous way to spend a few hours saving the Empire!

*****

If you enjoy my reviews, how about checking out some of my books? I love to do game reviews, but I also love to write – and always open to comments and questions!

Game Review – Call of Cthulhu starter box from Chaosium

So… you’ve heard plenty about fantasy RPGs, such as Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons. But you’re looking for something a bit more… down to earth and maybe a little bit bloody.

Start here, with the CoC starter box! For only $25 (depending on where you are) you can dip your toes into one of the most popular horror RPGs around!

I have to admit, I’m a newbie to this game – although I’ve been playing D&D since First Edition (points at Player’s Handbook on shelf) I’ve never really been curious about CoC… until the last Origins Game Fair where the hubby and I signed up for an one hour demo, arranged by Rogue Cthulhu to introduce the new 7th edition to the public. One hour and I was HOOKED! Since then, I’ve picked up the source book and many of the scenario packs and run a few games for my gaming group – making mistakes along the way, but we’re all having a good time.

And yet… I grabbed at this like a drowning woman when it came out. Got my FLGS to order one in for me because I wanted to see it. And damn it, it’s a hell of a deal!

First, let’s look at what’s inside – and I dare you to find any other starter set with THIS much inside!

When they say “everything you need”, they’re not kidding. Dice, character sheets (blank AND filled in!) a solo adventure to give you a taste of the game on your own, intro rules and then the last book has THREE adventures, from a one vs. one for you to get comfortable with the rules to a second one for more people to a third scenario that takes place in Harlem, opening up in a jazz club! And all this for less than the cost of many major RPG system’s sourcebook!

I’m finding this a fabulous addition to my CoC collection, and highly recommend it anyone who’s interested in learning this system or who want to dabble a bit in finding out what Call of Cthulhu is all about. Chaosium has put together the perfect starter kit, including everything a new gamer would want and need to not only learn the system, but introduce a whole new group of people to CoC without any further investment! If you’ve ever thought about going off fantasy RPGing and get a taste of horror gaming, get this box set!

Game Review – Maiden’s Quest

It’s been a while since I did any game reviews and I’ve decided to get back into it – with one of my new favorites – Maiden’s Quest by Wizkids! I snagged this last year at Origins – actually, I ran to the booth the minute the dealers room opened to buy a copy, because I was so excited about it!

And I wasn’t disappointed… so let’s take a look!

What you get in the box!

Maiden’s Quest is a solo game, with a small option for doubles play, where you take on the role of a maiden trapped in a tower… but you’re not going to sit by and wait for someone to save you! Hells, no! You’re breaking out and taking everything you can to fight your way down to the bottom and defeat the big baddie – or escape through an exit door!

Building your deck is as simple as picking a princess and a bad guy – directions on the back of each card dictates what barriers and bonuses will go into your final deck. Zombies, vampires, allies and useful weapons all get shuffled together and then you begin!

Look at the first card and see what you have – game play consists of slipping the first card to the back until you hit a big baddie, or a princess that allows you to upgrade some of the cards behind it. The cards have wonderful artwork, and can be flipped and/or turned to allow each card to represent FOUR levels of usefulness. Some are spells, some life points, some weapons and upgrades… and some provide exits from the tower!

Combat consists of first deciding if you want to fight – if you choose not to, you can take a penalty listed on the card and go through the deck, flipping life point cards over to take damage. But if you do decide to fight, fanning out the four cards behind the enemy gives you the arsenal needed to take him/her out. If you do, you flip the card over and gain whatever’s on the back. When you reach the end of the deck, you shuffle them and begin again – special cards signal when you’ve gotten to the end and what level you’re on, affecting the level of bad guys and girls you’ll be facing.

I’m simplifying it a bit, because it’s a complex game to master. I have to admit, when I raced back to my hotel room to play, I was annoyed and disappointed at the rule booklet included in the box. Hopefully they’ve done a better job with newer versions, but I ended up watching the VERY USEFUL Youtube videos on how to play. But once I got past the wobbly instructions, I found myself addicted to the point that I purchased a small black bag so I could carry my current deck with me everywhere – allowing for the chance, small as it is, that I could meet someone and gain a treasure offered by a card in the game allowing for someone to sign off on the card for duo play.

I do highly recommend you go straight to the videos – they’re well done and answer a lot of questions you’ll come up with – I really found them much more useful than the game rules!

And there you go! An excellent solo play game, once you get past the badly written rulebook – and one where the woman doesn’t sit back and wait to be saved! Four out of five big dragon claws up for this great card game!

Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

In this age of video games it’s hard at times to get people to put the controller or mouse down and get interested in a board game. If you or someone you know is like this, may I suggest Castle Panic by Fireside Games as a great way to break them away from the computer screen? The concept is easy enough – you and your fellow players are in the castle in the center of the board, trying to fight…

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Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

In this age of video games it’s hard at times to get people to put the controller or mouse down and get interested in a board game. If you or someone you know is like this, may I suggest Castle Panic by Fireside Games as a great way to break them away from the computer screen?

castle-panic-game-contents-fireside-gamesThe concept is easy enough – you and your fellow players are in the castle in the center of the board, trying to fight off a hoard of monsters determined to make their way to your stronghold and tear down your walls. But you’re not going to go down easily and your friends are right beside you as you work together to beat Goblins, Orcs and Trolls – along with some special characters and darned nasty events like Giant Boulders being tossed at your walls!castle-panic-game-monster-tokens-fireside-games

The board is simple enough to set up – your tower and walls are set up in the center of the board covering each sector. When a monster hits one of the walls it takes one point of damage, usually enough to kill it – but you lose that wall segment. And once a monster is inside the wall it will spin around to take out all of the outer walls and then the inner walls unless you take it out. And once all of the walls are gone, well… Game Over.

castle-panic-game-cards-fireside-gamesGame play is wonderfully simple and yet full of possibilities for strategy – each player gets a certain number of cards, based on the number of players. Each card shows a fighter – Archer, Knight, Swordsman and the color shows which sector they’re active in. Other special cards allow you to rebuild walls, fortify walls and characters, such as Heroes and Barbarians, will help you defeat tough monsters such as the Orc Mage.

On each turn a player draws up to their hand limit then can trade ONE card with any other player – a way to rotate resources to where they might be best used. You can also discard one card and pull an extra card. After this you can play as many cards as you want – because at the end of your turn all of the monsters on the board move one ring closer to the tower. Each card does one point of damage to the monster unless noted otherwise – and not all monsters take only one point to kill! And then two monsters are added to the board, pulled out of a lovely black pouch and placed on the board with a random dice roll.

castle-panic-game-board-fireside-gamesIf you like games with an equal amount of strategy and randomness, this is the game for you. You can plan all you want but when you pull a Healer from the bag or a Giant Boulder, all of your plans can go up in smoke. The 3-D aspect adds a lovely touch as you scramble to rebuild walls using Brick and Mortar cards while working together to defeat the monsters.

Castle Panic has two expansions out at present and the concept has been used in other games like Munchkin Panic. We’ve played three games and lost two because we just got unlucky and pulled the strongest monsters at the end of the game – when most of our walls were down and we were weakest.

It’s also been reviewed by Tabletop and if you’re looking for a great video on how much fun it can be – check it out!

This is a great game if you have kids – it plays quickly and the rules are easy enough to explain along with the co-operative aspect. If you’re looking for a fun addition to your game shelf with the possibility of pulling your friends away from the computer screen, consider Castle Panic!

Game Review – Exploding Kittens!

photo-originalThe title says it all…. the hubby and I got in on the Kickstarter for this fast-paced card game – in fact, it was THE most successful KS campaign for a card game, generating a ton of cash and of support.

And why not? After all, it’s got kitties…

… exploding kitties!!!

But there’s actually a game here… and a strategy, if you want to win!

First, the gameplay – it’s a very simple set-up that reminds me of Three Cheers for Master, which I reviewed earlier – you each get one Defuse card and four other cards out of the deck. The deck is set up depending on the number of players, which dictate how many Defuse cards get shuffled into the deck and how many Exploding Kittens cards as well. The more players, the more special cards get shuffled in; scaling the game up and down for those who can go from playing with the hubby to having a table full of buddies.

exploding-kittens1The turns are deceptively simple – play any and all cards that you want from your hand until you decide to stop and draw a card, signaling the end of your turn. Pairs of alike cards and triples allow you to steal cards from your opponents, some you get to choose and some you don’t. Special cards allow you to shuffle the deck, declare NOPE to another player’s attempt to steal your cards or perform some other action, let you skip your turn or force your opponent to take two turns in a row.

Obviously the more turns you take the more likely it is that you’ll pull the Exploding Kitten card – and the only way to not immediately lose the game is to use a Defuse card, which allows you to place the card back into the deck. Note here I said “place”, not shuffle. This is important. It’s very possible you might be able to force your opponent to pick the card right back up on the next turn.

exploding-kittens-5When I played with the hubby, I had a plan.

It was a good plan. Hold onto the Shuffles, Skip turns and Attacks to make sure I wasn’t going to end up getting the Exploding Kitten at the end of the game.

Yeah. It was a plan.

ANYWAY, the hubby beat me two games in a row. He was all grins and smirks until I reminded him that I hate to lose.

Punishment to be determined later.

o-EXPLODING-KITTENS-CARD-GAME-KICKSTARTER-facebookANYWAY, I recommend Exploding Kittens if you love a fast, fun game. There’s two versions, one safe for public consumption and one NSFW – well worth adding to your game shelf and guaranteed to give you hours of entertainment with great artwork and cute text.

BOOM!

Game Review – Three Cheers for Master by Atlas Games

Sometimes the best games are those you don’t find yourself. When we attended the last Origins Game Fair we took along a friend to her first gaming convention. She had a great time and found some wonderful games that she’s now introducing us to for the first time. And one of the first, and to me the best ones, is Three Cheers for Master from Atlas Games. Here’s the cover copy: Master Has Been…

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