Anniversary Homebrew: Wife Edition

Greetings All,

If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know that my husband and I made our own little versions of games we love for our anniversary. And if you’re just now tuning in… you might want to check out the other anniversary posts. Anyhow, between being ridiculously busy and sleep deprived I’ve been dragging my feet on this post. Also small disclosure here, the picture I’m adding is not an original. My husband cropped it together, but it is not his art.

I didn’t like my end product. Even though I will admit that I am adorable and my little Above and Below parody game followed suit, it just felt extremely lacking. I’m not a great storyteller (No clue why I have a blog) and I knew I wanted to include playable scenarios for every year of our relationship, but doing that made it where I could not actually use my stories in the game Above and Below. My characters can totally be played in the actual game though.

On to my husband’s game. He was going to make three chapters for Mice and Mystics centered around my favorite character Filch. He was only able to finish one because he had been working so many extra hours at work. Luckily he assures me I’ll get to play the other two for Christmas. I really enjoyed playing the first chapter. Filch is wonderful and I’ve always been upset by how little love he gets in the game. My husband was able to capture the right attitude and speech patterns for Filch and it made the story sing. I couldn’t stop smiling. He is so good at storytelling and has charisma for days, his theatrics made the experience that much better. My husband was a bit upset because his game wasn’t anniversary themed, but I loved it. I suppose he could have made a cute love story between the characters or something, but instead he chose to write a story for a character that I demand to play with every time we play. It means more to me that he is writing these chapters for me to go on an adventure with my favorite character than it would have to just make a random love encounter between characters that I have no interest in. It appears that Mice and Mystics is over with Plaid Hat and that saddens me, but because of my husband I still get to enjoy a new story and that’s absolutely wonderful. It makes me think of all of those television series that were abruptly cancelled and I never got closure, I’d kill for some new content for them. At least I get two more chapters this month! ūüôā

So now that I’ve rambled and have made everyone bored… I promise I’ll get caught up with my overdue content. I have several game reviews half written and several interviews in progress. Thanks for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.

                                                           -livingbytheboard

Anniversary Prep – Wife Edition, Vol 2!

Greetings All, 
This is going to be short and sweet because I am sleepy. As some of you may remember, my husband and I have a big anniversary coming up. Five years! We decided to utilize games that we both love to create anniversary gifts for each other. My husband is doing homemade Mice and Mystics campaigns and I am doing homemade characters, rules, and an adventure book based on Above and Below. 
So far I have written my rules, adventure book, and designed my characters. I still have to design my rulebook and adventure book. I have my backgrounds picked out and my laminating paper ordered. I just have to get the umph to finish. 
So there ya go, short and sweet. I’m going to go pass out now. Good night everyone. Thanks for reading and until next time… Live by the board. 
-livingbytheboard 

Anniversary Prep – Husband edition vol 2!

Good evening loyal readers!¬† …I WILDLY regret announcing my project!¬† In the interest of transparency, let me explain.¬† I’m not going to say I underestimated the scope of the project at hand, however…I did not anticipate the amount of busy work this would entail.

For instance, I am not an artist.¬† It never even registered to me that I’d need to confer with any sort of application that would require I create a scene or image freehand.¬† The end product of my first MS Paint images looked like the initial phase of rehab for a traumatic brain injury.¬† Not pretty to say the least.¬† It was very surprising just how much time was lost to this endeavor, to the pursuit of making images that didn’t look like finger paint therapy for the criminally insane.
The second major issue came in the form of a problem I’d not dealt with for quite some time…being properly articulate and elaborate.¬† I finished the story draft for the first two chapters fairly quickly, maybe a few hours tops. Upon proofing them for application into an articulated story…it read like the script to a 2003 movie vehicle starring Shia LaBouf…it had “Holes,” dude!¬† (For all 3 of you out there who caught that reference, thank you for judging me only passively.)¬† Either way, revisions galore on my end.
And, the real obstacle in all of this, an overabundance of overtime at work.¬† There was about a month and a half period where I was working LITERALLY HALF of the time.¬† For clarity, that’s 12 hours a day, every day, for many consecutive weeks.¬† Without being overly verbose about it, it was conducive to the creative process.¬† Luckily, this appears to be ending soon…or at least slowing down.
Thank you all for suffering my list of excuses and (hopefully) not judging me for God awful references.  Hopefully the next update comes with proper progress, or maybe even SOMETHING being totally completed.
Until next time, insert a cliche sign off catchphrase here.

Industry Interviews – Ryan Laukat, Red Raven Games.

Greetings All,
Sorry about the long wait between posts. I have been working on my anniversary gift for my husband and therefore have been a bit preoccupied, however, I have been doing some sharing and interacting on my Facebook and Twitter so if you’re hankering for some Living by the Board love please give us a follow! ūüôā
Today I get to bring you a lovely little interview from Ryan Laukat of Red Raven Games. My favorite Red Raven game is Above and Below. Oddly enough my anniversary gift for my husband is a mini adventure of our time together in the format of Above and Below including new adventures and character cards. If you want to hear more about my gift and my husbands Mice & Mystics gift, please stay tuned! Until then, enjoy the interview folks!
red raven.png
1) When you were younger you did some commercials as a boy Soprano, correct? Can you provide me with a link to see one by chance?
(I have a solo at about 19 seconds)
2)I understand that you currently have a second job at Cannonball Musical Instruments. My daughters were super excited to learn about that because they play flute and saxophone. Outside of this, what job(s) did you have before your gaming career?
Because Cannonball is a family business my parents started when I was young, that was my first job, and I’ve worked there since I was sixteen. Before I started Red Raven, though, I did freelance illustration in the board game industry for companies like Rio Grande and Z-Man Games.
3)I’ve read that you and your wife both participated in Missions. You lived in the Dominican Republic for a spell, how did you enjoy that?
I have a special place in my heart for the Dominican Republic. I loved the time that I lived there. Coincidentally, my love for euro games came from my time there. I had a copy of Puerto Rico which I played many times there.
4)What was the first game you ever designed?
I was twelve years old. It was a card game inspired by trading card games. I painted cards with monsters and creatures that would battle each other with different abilities.
5)You created Red Raven Games in 2011. What was the inspiration for the company name?
I had written a short story with a red raven in it and decided to use that for the company name.
6)What was the first title published under Red Raven Games?
Empires of the Void. It’s a space exploration game and we only made one print run. Now, years later, we are publishing its sequel: Empires of the Void II
7)What is your favorite Red Raven game and Favorite non-Red Raven game?
My favorite Red Raven game is City of Iron. My favorite non-Red Raven game is Agricola. But I also really like games that are immersive of that tell an intriguing story.
 
8)Given market trends and the performance of Red Raven Games catalogue, what do you believe the future holds for the company, such as expanding the company and it’s game library?
There will probably be lots of new story games throughout the years. 
9)Obviously your wife is heavily involved in the company and therefore gaming. Do your children enjoy tabletop gaming as well?
Our kids love board games. Every time we sit down to play, they want to come and join. They help us play test and they’ve even started designing their own games.
10)Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to be involved in the gaming industry?
The most important thing about getting involved in the gaming industry is doing it because you love it. Also, get involved in-game groups, design groups, trade shows, demos–anything you can. It’s important to meet people and make connections, not just to get started, but because this industry is very interactive and friendly. Everyone is there to help you and give you useful input.
I want to thank Ryan and his wife Malorie, as well as Red Raven Games for this interview. It is greatly appreciated. Thank you everyone for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.
-Livingbytheboard

Anniversary Prep – Wife edition

Greetings All,

As some of you may know, my husband and I have a big anniversary coming up this year. Five years married! We are not in the best of financial positions right now so our plans have been cut short. We decided to both work on a game that we can modify and add our own twists and stories to. Of course in the end it was easier to pick story based games. My husband chose Mice & Mystics and I chose Above and Below.

I am several weeks behind my husbands post, but I have been wracking my brain on how to possibly compare to his lovely explanation of his Mice & Mystics prep. Solution: I can’t. I’m not nearly as good at hiding my plans for my “expansion”. In fact, my notes have been sitting open on my night stand for weeks and my husband has been a good sport and not looked… I think.

So let’s do this as vague as possible. I am going to include a video and rules for Above and Below so that those of you that haven’t played yet can get a basic understanding of the game.

In the beginning of my prep I was having a really hard time trying to fit my stories into the actual game. Obviously I couldn’t explore the scenarios that I have written because I’ll know what is best to roll and what my outcomes will be. I want my husband to go through all of the scenarios I have written and in one play through at that, however, I do not want him to suffer during game play because I have all options and he is forced to explore every turn. So I decided that instead of fitting them into the actual game that it my scenarios would be an homage to Above and Below, but played separate if the actual game.

After prepping in that style for a month straight, I changed my darn mind again. I have now decided that at the start of the game we will start with one extra bed and one extra character. We will both explore each turn – He will explore my scenarios and I will explore the standard Above and Below scenarios. I am adding an extra bed and character for each of us so that we can still complete other tasks that we would normally skip exploration for.

Here’s a brief spoiler free preview of how I’m doing my scenarios. We have been together for six years, therefore I am doing six scenarios… something real that occurred each year we were together. There will be three outcomes for each – two positive outcomes based on the number(s) rolled and one negative outcome should he fail to roll enough to succeed. There will be characters he can acquire from successful roles and the characters themselves will have new abilities that can be utilized during gameplay.

That said, there are some things I haven’t worked out yet. For example during some explorations you’ll get 3 coins and a rope for successfully rolling. Well, I’m over here trying to figure out how the hell 3 coins and a rope fit into rolling during a vacation scenario. (There is not vacation scenario, but I wasn’t going to use a real one on here.) I’ve figured out how I’m doing reputation, but those freaking items are the bane of creative existence right now. I’m also creating actual character cards to print out and laminate.

So yeah there is my not nearly entertaining enough look at where I’m at in my anniversary prep. Stay tuned to hear more from my husband and I as our anniversary approaches. Thank you for reading and until next time… Live by the board.

-livingbytheboard

Anniversary Prep – Husband edition!

Hi, loyal readers!

The wife and I have a lovely milestone looming on the horizon, our 5th year wedding anniversary!¬† So, in lieu of hyper frugality *cough-ostensible-poverty-cough* we decided to make our own mini expansions for some of the games we really love.¬† Since this is something of a new horizon for both of us (her), we also decided to pick games that emphasized narrative elements in their overall gameplay.¬† With this criteria, I INSTANTLY chose one of my (our) all-time favorites: Mice and Mystics.¬† This decision was all the easier to make when you bear in mind that my Wife LOOO-OOOVES one of the central characters of the games.¬† Now, Mice and Mystics is a game that is very heavy on magic and medieval theme, and using a fixed narrative as a the central mechanic of the whole game.¬† This made my job CAKE.¬† Now, you may be asking yourself: “Why in the blue hell is this guy spilling all of the beans about an anniversary gift that’ll be displayed for just anyone to read on the internet?” …shutup you digitally disembodied jerkface, we thought of this little caveat.¬† These posts will serve more as status updates coupled with non-spoilery details.¬† With all of this in mind, let’s jump right in to my first update.

Conception
I instantly wanted make a story deliberately for my Wife, something that would stay were her a little longer than a more superficial story.¬† So, I chose to fixate on her favorite character: Filch, the thief.¬† She absolutely LOVES him!¬† In fact, lemme give you a little perspective.¬† Mice and Mystics is published by Plaid Hat Games, and they have a decent online store that hosts several download only chapters of the game.¬† Incidentally, they also had several plushies available on their website for sale…but they only had two characters, neither of which were Filch.¬† She weepily laments (loudly, and often during gameplay) his absence to this day. ¬†(Just want to take a moment to see if Plaid Hat Games could find it in their hearts to donate a Colin plush to this blog…I’d be ETERNALLY grateful…begging complete.) ¬†Needless to say, I thought that manipulating her affinity for this character would be easy enough.
I’m presently at the phase of ferreting out the finer details of a scribble bomb that contains all of the broad strokes, and touch points.¬† I’m content with what I have so far, but I fear that making it “game compatible” will prove difficult.¬† The “when” and “where.” ¬†“When can I shoehorn this in?” ¬†“If I put this plot point at this particular area, will it make sense?” ¬†What’s more, I wanted to present this story in 3 separate chapters (playthroughs.) ¬†So, I’m wracked with this paralytic indecision on how to space everything out.¬† Above all, I wanna tell a halfway decent story, but I also want the gameplay to fun. *sigh* I have WAAAY more respect for Jerry Hawthorne after this (hopefully averted) debacle.
Tune in next time to see if I can pull my head out of my bum and actually get the plot done and get on to the meat and potatoes of this process, applied game mechanics…or tune in for my neurotic mental anguish to be on full display…your call, I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to spend your time online.
-The Husband
Thanks for checking this out everyone! Tune in next time for my anniversary plans! And until next time… Live by the board. – The Wife
-Living by the board

Mice & Mystics: Heart of Glorm

Greetings All,

Today my husband and I will be reviewing Mice & Mystics: Heart of Glorm, I asked him to co-write again because he LOVES Mice & Mystics, and let’s face it… he has a way with words. I will turn you over to him and then have a mini review of my own. Enjoy!

Mice & Mystics: Heart of Glorm, by Plaid Hat Games

1-4 players, 60-90 minutes

3d-box-right-mm-hog

-Husband-

Hello, faithful readers!¬† In her infinite malice, my wife saw fit to subject you poor people to my presence again, so…let the bombarding¬†commence!

Today I’ll be submitting a (mostly, hopefully) spoiler-free review of¬†the second full expansion to Mice & Mystics, entitled: “Heart of¬†Glorm.”

Let’s start with the real meat of the Mice & Mystics franchise, the
story. The story starts a short (unspecified) period of time after
the events of the first game, in the same setting as the first game
(Castle Andon), with (roughly) the same cast of characters from the
first game. This is a great thing, readers. It allows for fun
character/story development usually only contained in a novel, or an
RPG series. Some key characters have started to become battle
hardened, others have emotionally softened from their journey and
circumstances, it’s an interesting evolution. With your original
party of 6, you’ll have a new PC (playable character) to choose from,
her name is Nere’, and she is a different breed of mouse altogether!
All of your mice will be struggling against the villain of this
campaign, the eponymous “Glorm.”¬† To reveal hardly any of his story
would be ridonculously (enjoy, grammar nazis!) spoilery, so, I’ll
refrain. Suffice it to say, it stands up to the previous game in
terms of story quality, whilst not quite reaching the same heights.

Being that I covered primary gameplay mechanics my review of the base
game, I’m just going to omit the previously covered bits.¬† As for new
gameplay elements in this game, there aren’t TOO many to speak of.
The biggest addition you’ll receive is your new character: “Nere’.”
With her you’ll have a new combat class: “Wild.”¬† Being that Nere’
also possesses a “mystic” combat class, it provides an interesting new
slant of how to use magic.  Whereas your other mystic was used
(primarily) to inflict damage from afar, Nere’ can also be utilized to
increase her own stats for a more aggressive style of play.  Also
amongst the new mechanics are new equipment, new class abilities and
new opponents. I will say, some of the new enemies are FRUSTRATING to
say the least.  All in all, welcome additions gameplay, all around.

Last thing I want to touch on, is the quality of the whole package
itself.  I will, say the 2 miniatures that came with Heart of Glorm,
did not match the quality of the base game at all. They were somewhat
flimsy and felt very fragile when handled. However, the campaign book
in the game felt like a marked upgrade over the previous game.  It
felt like better quality paper, better binding, just better quality in
general. As for the box…don’t even get me started! Plaid Hat Games
has set a SERIOUS standard for shelf aesthetics (that is the most PG
way I can express that!)  The box is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS as is the art
inside!  I cannot applaud the art more, people.  Color me a fanboy.
but I’m fairly certain there is some manner of nigh deity working in
Plaid Hat Game’s art department.¬† Jus’ sayin’.

In conclusion, buy all of the Mice & Mystics products you can find.
Like, seriously. This expansion is more of the same, and that is
super awesome. It may not be as hearty as the first game, but it is a
welcome addition to the Mice and Mystics universe.  Now, please,
support this publisher and go out and purchase this game!

-End Husband-

Wow… I need to start reading his reviews before agreeing to write my own!

Anyhow, Heart of Glorm… is a wonderful story. While I do love the art and would be lying if I said Filch was not my phone background, the story is really the best part. Glorm, the “villain” of the story makes it difficult to win, but he touched my heart. All of the characters have beautiful backgrounds and Glorm is no different.

I put off playing the last chapter in the game for quite a while, because I did not want it to be over. When it was over, just wow. The story ended and it was beautiful. I cried. No joke, I really cried. With the story being such a huge part of the game play it is very difficult to disclose anything without ruining the whole thing for virgin players. This game creates a ridiculous emotional connection to its play and PCs. When you play, you’ll understand.

If you have never played a Mice & Mystics game, please go out and get the first one. If you have I’d love to hear from you about your reactions to the game/story. I will be back in a few days with a mini review of the second Lost Chapter. I hope you enjoyed this review.

If you liked this review and want to be kept up to date please follow my page and like me on Facebook. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard