Monday, March 21, 2011

Nightfall by AEG

So Dave and I just completed our first game of Nightfall by AEG.  The game is real cool with plenty of interaction between the players.  Nightfall is the newest Deck Building game to come out and as this genre of games continues to grow, it is fantastic to see a new game concept!  Here are a few highlights that we saw as we played, and a few questions that maybe we missed as we played. 

First, the cards look spectacular! The art is dark and really gives you the feel of a world full of Vampires, Werewolves, Ghouls, and Hunters. There appear to be more vampires in the starter set, and I hope to see some more of the rest as expansions come out. Oh wait... and I did not see a single sparkle on any of the vampires!

Second, the game flows in a very straight forward manner. To give a very simplified quick review: Combat Phase, Chain Phase, Claim Phase, and Cleanup Phase. Combat is very easy at first glace... all minions must attack other players. The Chain Phase is the most interesting as it allows you to play multiple cards, and to allow other players to play cards as well. The Chain Phase allows for players to also access a "kicker" effect, this allows players to really look/think about what cards they have in their deck as well as what other players have.  The Chain Phase mechanic really increases the interaction between players as they play cards not only on their turn but also on your opponents turn as well.  Additionally, most card games that involve playing cards when it is not your turn focus on prevent or blocking what your opponent does.  Nightfall instead allows you to benefit from playing the right cards during the Chain Phase, be it your turn or not!  Claim Phase lets you acquire more cards for your deck.  The last phase is Cleanup. This phase a chance to draw more cards, up to 5, and to take care of wounds.

One point to think about, and this goes for all Deck Building games, sleeve your cards! As you continue to play the game and shuffle the cards, you will begin to wear they out.  There are many different companies that make sleeves, but Mayday Games and Fantasy Flight Games make a clear back sleeve that is less expensive then most of the other companies.  The basic box that Nightfall comes in has several different foam spacers as well as indexed dividers with plenty of room left over for many future expansions.


Well the game designer, David Gregg, got back to us on Twitter. He was able to answer some of our questions... which was so COOL that he read the blog and gave us an answer. He created a great game and we are having some fun trying it out in the store.

1. What happens when you need to draw more wounds then there are left in the wound pile?

Answer: As per game designer David Gregg: The wound stack should have all 60 wounds. Once face up run out, use face down. After that, exiled then pen/paper.

2.  When you discard a starting minion after the end of the Combat Phase, are they exiled?

Answer: As per game designer David Gregg:  YES!

3. How do we get the promo cards for our players?

4. Will AEG be running events, or organized play?

5. Are the Starter Minions Exiled if you discard them to gain additional influence?

Answer: As per game designer David Gregg: no, the starters are only exiled if discarded or destroyed while in play.

Sean "Striderlotr" Banks

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Ants Go Marching...

...and so do the Spiders, Crabs, Inchworms and Nanos.

What are Nanos you ask? The smallest robotic insect available from Hexbugs, of course! Created by Innovation First International, the Hexbug line is a great look at the hobby-robotics section of the toy industry. Easily affordable, battery powered and numerous unique designs make this relatively new product a great toy for an child who likes technology. It's little wonder that the Hexbugs Habitat won the 2011 Specialty Toy of the Year Award by the Toy Industry Association!

With 6 different designs available, and numerous tracks/habitats, we've decided to create a review of all the various Hexbugs on the market today, including the Glow-In-The-Dark sets that only small box stores like ourselves can carry this year!

Original Hexbug 
This little six-legged robot has wiry antennas that, when touched, will cause it to change direction. It also reacts to loud sounds and vibrations, such as clapping or certain music. It comes in Purple, Black, Orange, Blue and Green and has 5 shell different designs, too! (Batteries Included, MSRP $11.99)

Inchworm Hexbug 
The first full-range insect, this one comes with a remote control. All 4 legs will walk in whatever direction you wish, and can spin on the single 'pedestal leg' for even more maneuverability. Unlike other toys, these operate on a dual-band controller, so 2 can be used at once with no mistakes! Comes in Red, Green, Indigo, Pink and Orange, all with the same design. (Batteries Included, MSRP $19.99)

Crab Hexbug 
Much like actual crabs, this particular Hexbug loves to hide in the dark. Their 8 legs will bring them to any shaded place, and will stay there till light or loud noises 'scare' them from hiding! When scurrying around, the it will change direction according to pre-programmed intervals, or will run from a flashlight/clapping. Comes in Red, Indigo, Turquoise, Green, and Black, all with the same design. (Batteries Included, MSRP $14.99)

Ant Hexbug 
Perfect for those who love racing, the ant will run as long as you let it. Equipped with 6 'propeller' legs, it can easily move over most carpets/flooring. Ever the busy-bug, it will run till it hits an obstacle then bounce back using the touch-sensitive antennas on its back and head. Comes in Green, Pink, Orange, Blue and Red, all with the same design. (Batteries Included, MSRP $11.99)

Spider Hexbug
Easily the largest of all, this newest Hexbug has full-range actions that you control. Use the enclosed remote to determine where it moves, and it will continue in that direction until it sees there is an obstacle in the way. How? It has a bright-red sensor 'eye' that allows it to notice things in its path! Comes in Teal, Orange, Red, Blue and Green, all with the same design. (Batteries Included, MSRP $24.99)

Nano Hexbug 
Quite possibly the most well-known of all, these Hexbugs, love running everywhere. Only about 2 inches long, they move by vibration on their numerous rubbery legs. While they don't have light, noise or touch sensitivity, they do have numerous colors available, and are considered collectible! Very hardy, they will scurry over any hard horizontal surface and flip themselves over if they fall. Can be played with separately, or with any of the below Hexbug Habitats. (Batteries Included, MSRP $9.99)

Hexbug Habitats 
Made specifically for the Nanos, these tracks come in many varieties. Choose from the Raceway Set, Normal Set, Elevation Set, Spiral Set, Starter Set and our store's favorite, the Bridge Battle Set. Can be used alone, or combine different sets to let your Nanos run for hours! (MSRP $14.99-$49.99)

Glow-In-The Dark Nano Hexbug and Habitats
Exactly the same as the other Nanos, these are made far cooler by the fact that they glow (quite brightly) in the dark. Just leave the Nanos and their Habitats in bright light for an hour or two, then set them up in a dark room and watch the resulting 'light show'! Currently, the Habitats available for these are the Starter Set and Normal Set. **Our store was very excited about this particular product because big-box stores can't even carry it til 2012. Thank you, Hexbug creators, for supporting the local gaming stores!**

Each of these designs runs on a standard battery, available in packs of 2 wherever Hexbugs are sold. The batteries are easily changeable, and only require an eyeglass screwdriver to open.  (MSRP $4.99)

As you can see, Hexbugs has made something for everyone, or at least everyone who enjoys technology and insects! My personal favorite is the Crab, but any of them are great fun. Now it's up to you to find your favorite Hexbug, too! 

Stasi King

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

GAMA Updates: Wednesday!

So if you are not lucky enough to work in the gaming industry or able to make it to GAMA to see and hear all the news about the Gaming/Hobbies industry, I'll continue to compile the posts from Dave who is sending us some small Tweets about the show. Yesterday we had some info from Wizards of the Coast and AEG, today we have some more from Wizards.

We will have a whole collection of posts to add on tomorrow about Yu-Gi-Oh and what Konami has to say about up and coming releases!

Wizards of the Coast:

D&D minis LE Set this year DRAGONS!

Conquest of Nerath 2-4 players large scale "Risk" style board game coming in June.

D&D New in Sept. Lair Assault A scenario that has high level of difficulty and can be played until "solved" 3- 4 hours of play.

Legend of Drizzt board game is part of the Neverwinter 2011 theme

D&D Encounters 9/10 starts The Lost Crown of Neverwinter right after D&D Game Day where you will build PCs for Encounters

Sean "Striderlotr" Banks

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GAMA Updates Tuesday!

So we have several employees at GAMA in Los Vegas! They are posting updates as to cool new games and information that they see. If you are following us on Twitter or Facebook you may have seen some of these posts, but I thought it would be great to have them all in one place... and posted per day of the show (as it runs all week)!

Wizards of the Coast:

October's MtG name is Innistrad and will be previewed in From the Vault Legends.

Innistrad poster child is Lillian-expect a dark tone to set with"resonant fantasy theme"

New Program: Magic Celebration on September 10, 2011 aimed at newer players.

Magic 2012 will launch on 360/PS3/PC at same time as paper cards with Garruk like promo card redemption 7/11!


War of Honor is a board game based version of L5R and great intro to new L5R arc.

Nightfall from AEG is a new deck building card game that promotes interaction between players set in a Blade or Underworld world. 

We will have a demo copy of Nightfall on Saturday, 3/19.

Thanks Dave for keeping us all in the loop as to what you see and what is going on at GAMA!

Sean "Striderlotr" Banks

COMICS: A Conversation with Matt Fraction

The following features quotes and excerpts from a conversation I had with Matt Fraction, writer of Uncanny X-men, Invincible Iron Man, Thor, and the upcoming mega-event, FEAR ITSELF.

I got a phone call from Hawaii over the weekend. Matt Fraction, writer of the huge Marvel event, FEAR ITSELF was calling as part of a promotion with comic book stores, to answer questions and stir interest in the book.

"It's about something you've never seen before. It's a new story." - MF

"[Fear Itself's] about something you've never seen before. It's a new story." Matt told me.  "It's a war of the gods, that the heroes are [caught between]." Originally, he and Ed Brubaker were asked to do a Captain America/Thor mini-series to coincide with the movies this summer. The story quickly grew until it became something much bigger, "like Civil War", Fraction said.

"The new Red Skull [Sin] discovers that Odin is not the All-Father, as previously thought." He said. "She frees an ancient evil, who grants her god-like powers as thanks. This leads to Captan America and Thor's worst nightmare: For Cap, an ultra-powerful Red Skull with the power of a god; for Thor, it's the knowledge that everything he knew and believed is based on a lie. He [no longer] knows who he is."

"He is forced to choose between standing with men, or standing with gods."

I asked Matt about whether readers are going to be forced to buy the spin-offs and one-shots, and also about how hard it was going to be for new readers to jump into the event.

"You don't need a PhD in Marvel to read the books." He said. One of Marvel's goals was to make the book as "clean and accessible as possible, without writing down to older readers."

As for all the extra mini-series and one-shots, Fraction put it simply. "The spin-off's are all stand alone. If you love the character, you'll love the spin-off." At the same time, "You don't need to buy the extras to enjoy the whole event."

He implied that each issue of the main issue comes with something big happening, or an event. "I want there to be something big in every issue," he said, "We hear from readers that [they want] events that matter." He let slip that something huge happens in issue 3 that will bring about a lot of mainstream media.

(Don't tell anyone I said that.  :) )

"There is something to keep people excited in every issue," he continued. "We want this to work as a mini-series where you can't wait until the next issue."

Since Civil War was brought up as a comparison, I pointed out that Civil War shipped behind schedule for the last couple issues, due to medical issues involved with some of the creative talent. I asked how far they are in the process of putting the book together.

He admitted that they've already dealt with behind-the-scenes issues, but it hasn't affected production. He also pointed out none of the talent involved are known for falling behind. "We can't predict anything, but we're doing our best and [we're] not known for not producing." He told me that they're already into issue #4 of the main series, which puts them about 2-3 months ahead of where they should be at this point in the solicitation cycle.

Like Civil War, Fear Itself will have resounding effects on the Marvel Universe. "This book sets the tone for the MU for the next two years."

We'd like to thank Matt from taking time away from his vacation to call and chat.


Follow-up notes: I'm a big fan of Fraction's work on Uncanny X-men, Iron Man and Thor. Based on the way sale have gone on these books the last 6 months, many of you agree. He's done a great job putting out quality material, and getting it out on time.

In other interviews, the entire creative team has stressed how important this event is to Marvel and it's future, and how they didn't want the spin-off books to be absolutely necessary to enjoy the story. I believe that they're telling the truth, and believe that the event is going to be worth the money.

Fear Itself: Book of the Skull comes out this week.

We'll have copies.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Magic Commander Format

So WotC has been giving out information at PAX East tonight.  I know not everyone can make it out there, so I thought I'd take a minute and compile some of the tweets that they have posted about this newish format. If you did not know, Commander is a twist on EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) which is a casual format that is played with a 99 card deck and 1 legendary creature that is your commander; making a 100 card deck.

Got the answers for the questions here that we asked and that we gathered from Twitter. This will release soon, and we will have some events for it in the store.

Q: Will the commander cards be over sized?
A: Yes.

Q: Can you use other Legendary Creatures as commanders or only the over sized cards?
A: Yes you can. The over sized cards are just a neat extra.

Q: What happens when an over sized card gets condemned?
A: There will be standard sized commander cards so that if they get shuffled into the deck you will be able to use them in EDH.

Q: How many Commander Decks can we expect?
A: 5 Decks. Each deck will be 100 cards, have around 18 rares, and 51 unique cards.

Q: When will the decks be available?
A: They will be in stores in June.

Sean "Striderlotr" Banks

Monday, March 7, 2011

Magic Players at the Den

Many people have asked us about the players here at the Dragon's Den for Magic. We have had many players who have come in and played some games of Magic at the store. We wanted to give future players an idea of what you can expect and who you might play against.

1. We have players from all walks of life, elementary school kids, teachers, lawyers, computer techs, high school students, college students, restaurant works, retail works, warehouse workers, and so much more.

2. We have had many female players as well. I've had several new players comment that we have had events with as many as 8 ladies playing.  So although we have many male players at any given event, we also almost always have at least one female player!

3. The level of play ranges from very new to pro!

4. DCI Numbers can tell you how long a player has been playing the game. We have many players who have DCI #s that are 10 digits long, which is the current length, but we have had many small numbers as well.  The shortest number is only 4 digits long!

Last Week in Comics

Very happy to see more Peanuts material hit the market.

Boom! has only been producing comics for a handful of years, but between AMORY WARS, INCORRUPTIBLE, IRREDEEMABLE, FARSCAPE, the Stan Lee books, the MUPPET SHOW, and all their other titles, they've made a name for themselves as publishers of quality comics. There's a lot of enthusiasm and experience behind-the-scenes there. Stan Lee doesn't work with just anybody, y'know?

When Boom! first teased the possibility of doing a Peanuts book, I was caught off-guard. Fantagraphics has been doing the hardcover reprints of Peanuts for several years, and they're clearly not giving up that license.

And then.. boom, we find out what Boom! has in-mind for their re-branded kids line, Kaboom!:

Kaboom! announces new Happiness is a Warm Blanket Peanuts graphic novel 

From the press release:

This March, join Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy and all your favorite PEANUTS characters as Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, the very first PEANUTS graphic novel ever published, is released by newly-launched all-ages imprint kaboom! Based on the work by PEANUTS creator Charles M. Schulz himself, this graphic novel is sure to delight a whole new generation of PEANUTS fans!

This is a pretty cool idea. There's been a number of new animated Peanuts specials over the years (Although the Christmas one is far-and-away the best), and by adapting Happiness is Warm Blanket, they're adding more great content to all the good all-ages material currently available.


Annihilators #1 arrived last week. I mentioned this a couple weeks back, and it was worth the wait.The first half of the book detailed the new team that Quasar put together, dealing with the Spaceknights and their enemies, The Dire Wraiths.The 2nd half was a story about Rocket Raccoon and his new job at an interstellar corporation. His job? He delivers the mail.

No. Really. Ton of fun, as he deals with the guilt of losing the Guardians and his friends.

Speaking of Abnett and Lanning, they've been knocking it out of the park with their work on Heroes for Hire. They've also made me like long-time C-lister, Paladin. That last sentence was a group of words I never thought I'd put together in that particular order.

This is why I love DnA so much; they do a great job of taking characters that often come off as boring and or plain, and spice them up. Which is why I was stoked to see that..

They're the new writers on New Mutants.

More at the link, but the first story arc has them tracking down one of the most enigmatic mutants, ever.


I've written recently about my love for the 100 Bullets story, and it's creative team of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. I should also point out the covers, done by Dave Johnson, are extraordinary.

I've also mentioned that I'm not quite certain what to think of DC's newest event, FLASHPOINT.

Funny how things turn out.

Looks like someone at DC likes me:

The 100 Bullets/Spaceman creative team are writing a Batman tie-in for Flashpoint. Crazy.

Half the Flashpoint books/tie-in's have been announced.

More titles at the DCU blog


Couple quick links I posted on Facebook:

- Google changed their font on Sunday to recognize the late, great Will Eisner. Mark Evanier (he of Groo and Garfield fame) has a great blog post talking about Eisner's achievements. Evanier's blog is a must-read in my book. He talks film, animation, Hollywood, a smattering of politics, and lots of comics. Great stuff.

Link here for his thoughts on Eisner.

- Winter is Coming:

 - No, really... WINTER IS COMING.

As in the next book.

Yes, it's really coming. In July.


That's it for today. Back later in the week, as I peruse Previews.