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Monday, April 14, 2008

Start the week @ RD/KA!: Meanwhile... elsewhere, at the table, and on the shelf

It's been an eventful few months in the gaming industry since last August. D&D4 had been announced just before that last post and has wreaked its attendant hullaballoo across the net in subsequent months. I haven't played D&D regularly since my teenage years, so I've not been following much of this at all. I daresay I'll end up buying the game just to see what it looks like. The most I can hope for from it is that I'll find it interesting enough to read it from cover-to-cover, unlike D&D3 and 3.5

Black Industries finally releases one of the longest awaited and most hotly anticipated roleplaying products ever, namely the 40K RPG Dark Heresy. It shifts shedloads just in time for GW to announce the closure of their Black Industries subsidiary, the better to concentrate on Black Library's core publishing. Lamentations and woe betide us all! Until Fantasy Flight Games rode to the rescue with a licencing deal for GW's (non-miniature) boardgame, cardgame and RPG licences.

Note that Black Industries made their announcement on Jan 28, FFG's was Feb 22. What was the purpose of this three and-a-half week delay I wonder? Was there really so much unfinished business? Or were there just salesmen who couldn't resist the opportunity to sow the seeds of some panic-buying, such as yours truly, who promptly went out and bought the Dark Heresy book which might otherwise've been left lying for some months to come, and who finished off his WFRP collection for good measure, "just to be on the safe side". Also, some readers might remember that BI had procured the licence for the DC RPG. Has this now reverted? Or can we expect something from FFG? Its announcement refers specifically to GW's IP, so I won't be holding my breath.

Elsewhere, Steve Long announced summer 2009 as the release of HERO 6th edition. In a surprising move, he also announced that he'd sold the Champions Universe property- the official setting of the Champions' RPG since the original edition- to Cyptic Studios, who are to use the setting (but not the rules) in their upcoming Champions Online MMORG. Long meanwhile plans to licence the IP back from Cryptic Studios for use in the HERO games line.

Finally, as roleplayers the world over know, Gary Gygax died on March 4th. As people've tried to put his contribution to roleplaying into perspective, we can be sure that roleplaying would've happened without him, but he certainly put his unique stamp on the early days of the hobby with things like his infamously quirky list of polearms in the AD&D DMG. And, whatever his precise contribution at any stage of the creation of D&D was, Gary Gygax became, to all intents and purposes, the founding father of roleplaying. I think the last thing any of those guys were thinking as they dreamed up new ways of playing games with their toy soldiers (when they really ought to've been "far too old for them", remember!) was that they would start anything which would transform the gaming industry, let alonge grant possible 'founding father' status to any of them. So we have to reckon that Gygax's coming to bear this honour was probably as unexpected by Gygax as by anyone else. When all is said and done, he seems to made a tolerably good job of bearing it. And D&D and roleplaying have outived him, which must have pleased him in the end, wouldn't you think?

Gaming stopped completely for a couple of months last year after I went offline, restarting in December in time for the Xmas day Combat Commander bash with Badger. Combat Commander has been at the table a lot since then, but regular sessions with Andy and Donald mean that a lot of other favourites, new and old, have been seeing action. Highlights have included my first victory as the Overlord in Descent, the thrilling tales of my derring duo of ace pilots in Crimson Skies, and my first game in more than 20 years of the old AH game of chariot racing Circus Maximus. Commands and Colours: Ancients and Settlers Cards have also made welcome appearances recently, which I would hope to see again in the future.

Of course, I've bought a few new games, mostly filling out games with expansions: Days of Wonder's Memoir'44 Air Pack and Battlelore Specialist Packs, CC:A expansions #2- Rome & the Barbarians and #3- The Roman Civil War,and the Descent expansions, including the new The Road to Legend campaign expansion. Fast Action Battle: the Bulge and Manoeuvre, both by GMT, are 2 completely new games I've bought recently. Alert readers will already've noticed that I've recently played Manoeuvre (see right...), but it's still too early to report other than to say that it looks like the game delivers what I'd hoped (which was 'what it said on the tin'- check out the link to its page at GMT's site to see what I saw...). I'm still digesting FAB: the Bulge, but I like the look of it quite a lot. Quite a lot indeed.
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