Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Broken Knaves Gathered for Gaelcon

It's been awhile in the waiting, but the last segment of my 2014 series is here; my favourite events of 2014. As a gamer, the highlight of the year can easily be a good gaming event, but the best way to get the most out of your games in my opinion is to go to several. I went to 5 events in 2014. I enjoyed 4 of them. They are all fairly distinct from each other too, so I will talk about these 4 events and shamelessly plug them as I go. And I'm not going to lie; I have a personal interest in two of these so I may just plug them even more.

The first is technically two; Knavecon is actual a biannual event but both were just fantastic. The first was in March so I am going to start with this event. Knavecon is unique in that it is the only board game focused convention in the country; it doesn't hurt either that I'm now a member of the team. It could certainly be described as a family-friendly event, but I certainly wouldn't describe it for the faint of heart either, as this affair kicks off at a timely 10am and extends until the last person falls asleep, usually at about 5am. Don't get me wrong though; there is no pressure to go the whole nine yards, in fact what makes the event access the most is the nonrestrictive, open, and overall relaxing nature of the whole thing. Also, free coffee. It is the perfect event to try a new game, player with new people, or just simply get in that long day gaming session that you and your friends don't always have time for. Highly suggested, the next one is on April 11th in the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick; be there!

Moving on in time, the next of these events hits home in June in the grand venue of Thomond Park, also here in Limerick. I am of course talking about Conclave, one of the oldest events in the country, and run by the Gathering gaming store. While Conclave tries its hand at a bit of everything gaming wise, in my opinion the biggest strengths of the weekend have always been the wargaming and the card games. Over the years various pre-releases and national/international qualifiers have taken place at the event for card games, while several national championships for several war games have been given a home at the event also. Competition is fierce but friendly, and there is a level of prestige that can be boasted about the place. The event has grown over the years and continues to do so while continuing the attempt to push the boundaries of what a gaming convention is all about. The next Conclave will be on this June, so stay tuned to the Gathering's page for exact dates.

Also in the summer, and also in Limerick, is BroCon. Now I won't lie, I may or may not run it, so I may or may not say it is awesome. It may or may not be for that reason alone. But in all seriousness, BroCon has found a unique place amongst conventions down south as the only dual gaming and anime convention in Limerick, setting it apart in its own way. BroCon is still a young con, but this has given rise to an enthusiasm to deliver that goes with a younger generation. This is not to say this is an event for only young people; much like the cons above the attendees each year range from families with their kids, to some veteran gamers along for the craic. And whatever the reason to attend, there is something for everyone. Despite the duality with anime in this event, BroCon sports all types of gaming, from the wargames, RPGs, cards and board games you see at most gaming conventions, to other gaming such as consoles and LANs. As part of the package with being not solely focused on gaming, many special guests attend each year, ranging from voice actors to game designers. The weekend is topped off by a generous trade hall with plenty to see and buy so you are sure to leave your adventure with plenty of loot. Not to be missed, BroCon VI hits us this year on July 10th-12th.

The last event on the list, and the biggest also, is Gaelcon. Gaelcon is one of the largest events in the country, as well as one of the longest going. Run by the IGA this is a titan con for all things gaming. Competitive war games, board games galore, demos running everywhere, and unique events like a full-on Artemis simulator set-up are just some of the highlights Gaelcon have to show.
Always on the long weekend at the end of October, the event also boasts something very unique with being the only 4 day gaming event in the country. The event also boasts one of the toughest pub quizzes of all the conventions in the country, perfectly suited to the largely more mature crowd that make up the majority of the attendance. But we are all nerds in the end, and I would definitely recommend it for a weekend away gaming. This one is in Dublin unlike the rest, and takes place from October 23rd-26th this year. Don't miss out on a great long weekend.


So that's it for 2014. It was a great year, and to finish out, I ask you as always: what was your favourite gaming event of 2014 and why? And to move on to 2015, what gaming events are you planning on going to this year?


Got some more games coming up next time. Until then, you've been Tabled.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Dawn Will Come

When I started this blog I mentioned that I would like to look at video games sporadically throughout my interests in the world of tabletop gaming. This is as an opening to explore the topic of games being played in person versus games being played online. As such, when doing my look back on 2014, I felt it only fair to also look at my favourite video game of 2014, and while there were some amazing games out last year, one stands out a mile above the rest for me personally. And you will never see it coming.

Yup, see what I did there?! Anyway, Dragon Age Inquisition, Bioware's grand attempt to get back on track in the world of RPG's, and boy did they. For those fans of the previous Dragon Age games, you will know of the triumphs of Origins' throwback to the RPG's of old, and 2's failings at streamlining them. Inquisition, however, takes the best of both games and throws them into one. This is exacerbated by Bioware's new foray into open world gaming. To play host to the bold new run at character driven gaming, the game boasts 10 large open world regions for you to adventure in, each as large as the majority of the maps of its predecessors put together. And in the majority of cases there is enough activity to fill those spaces too.

On top of that are other new features; an in depth crafting system both for equipment and potions, dynamic events within the world itself, mounts, and of course the Inquisition itself. The organisation actually has a function within the gameplay and not just the story, as you do various quests and acquire various upgrades to build it from the ground up. Recruit new agents, forge alliances, and use your war table to spread your ever-growing influence across the continent in an attempt to save the world from itself.

But while the new world spanning both Fereldan and Orlais is the new and shiny of the game, the heart of Dragon Age has always been the characters, and this is no different. This time around we are led by a survivor of a cataclysm that tears open the sky, a character that comes to be known as, you guessed it, the Inquisitor.

Surviving a magical explosion the tears open the veil between worlds, the Inquisitor is found to have power over these tears, being able to both open and close them. Naturally, this initially leads to suspicion that he/she is behind it all, and as expected, they go from prime suspect, to larger-than-life hero. Throughout this all, a cult from an old foreign super-power rises up in credit to the disaster, led by a mysterious being that turns out to be an old enemy. And in the background to all of this is the ongoing Mage/Templar war that started with the tragic ending of DA2. It may sound very samey and mundane, but it is truly riveting to see, and twists and turns at every junction, keeping you guessing at what happens next.

And if the protagonist and villain don't make you believe, one of the many from a vibrant cast of characters ought to do it. We see new faces and old, and indeed some old and very familiar faces will prove pivotal to how you move forward. There is a pious element to it, and the whole story does raise an interesting debate at every corner through a number of characters including both the protagonist and antagonist, and that is the whole controversial aspect to divinity and worship. While in the world of Thedas belief has created all the current problems of that world, belief now is also what seemingly brings it back together. And in a way it makes you believe in it too; that's the sort of writing we are looking at here. Should you ever doubt, just watch the video below, that shows a scene after the Inquisition suffers a significant loss, and how their unity and belief in the protagonist can bring a powerful following that can overcome it. It is truly powerful stuff, and the sort of stuff that will bring Bioware into the future on a positive note, should they manage to keep the momentum.


Above you can see shots of the journey of my own Inquisitor, so for today's request, I ask you what your favourite moments of this game were, and to show us pictures of your own Inquisitor? If this was not a game you played, what was your favourite game of 2014?


Friday, 2 January 2015

A Year of Gaming

2015 is upon us, and that means something very important; it's another year of opportunity to play more games. I mentioned in my last post that 2014 was a fantastic year for gaming however, and promised to touch more on this. Over the next few days, I will talk about this, including my favourite board games, favourite video games, and best events of the year.

Today I am going to start by talking about the best board games of the year. Just to note, when I say best board games of the year, I am of course referring to games that were released this year. To further clarify, I can only accurately discuss games that I have managed to play, so while there are some clear hits out there from 2014 like Dead of Winter and Zombie 15, my game of the year based on my own experiences has to be Camel Up.

Camel Up has a rather clever blend of game mechanics going on to create what could only be described as a 'manic masterpiece'. The premise of the game is that we are all gamblers watching a camel race somewhere arid and no doubt stuck in a hump (yes I did that). However, in a tradition not at all different to that of something bizzare such as Wacky Races, we also have the ability to sabotage and influence the race, not content to just sit and watch from the sidelines.

Each player can take one of four given actions in their turn, and play continues until each 'leg' of the race has finished. This happens once each of the camels has moved. One of the four action is to move a camel. Now the key thing to understand in this game is that nobody owns or controls any given camel. Instead, a pyramid full of D3's whose colours correspond to each camel sits looming in the center of the racetrack until a player decides to get the ball rolling. They are paid a coin for their trouble, and a die is randomly ejected from the top of the pyramid. The colour and number tell us which camel moves and how far. In a similar vein to Ribbit, the camels will climb on each others' backs if they land in the same space, and the bottom one will carry the others with him. This can create a very unpredictable finish as you may imagine.

The other actions are to bet on the winner of the leg, bet on the winner or the loser of the overall race, and to set traps on the board. These traps can either slow down or accelerate a camel stack that lands on them, and pay the owner of the piece when they trigger. The bets are all about order, and the sooner you bet, the more you will get paid if you are right. Finding the balance in timing and surety is the key to the game.

The picture on the front of the box really says it all, and Camel Up is a bizarre and wonderfully unpredictable game that keeps us playing over and over. It won Spiel des Jahres for a reason, and here at Tabled it has won my game of the year also. Well played.


Today's question is rather simple and follows the example of the post above exactly; what was your favourite game to be released in 2014, and why?


Next time I will be discussing my favourite video game of 2014; nobody will ever expect it.