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Cracked LCD- Too Much Ogre

ogre plus sj

Last week I took delivery on a copy of the Ogre Designer’s Edition, the 28 pound monstrosity that Steve Jackson crowdfunded through Kickstarter to the tune of almost a million bucks. No, don’t be silly. Of course I didn’t back it. I bought a copy through a retailer for a cool $65. I’ll take a savings of $35 over a couple of extra counter sheets, not to mention retaining my anti-Kickstarter party line regardless of the fact that this was one of the better justified and better run campaigns that I’ve seen. Ogre is one of the all-time great games, one of the seminal titles in the hobby spectrum, and after being out of print for years I should be thrilled to pieces to have this massive, supposedly “ultimate” edition of the game.

But I’m not. Continue Reading…

Brakketology Sees Betas and Alphas; Exclaims, “Oh My!”

Pillars of Eternity

It’s holiday time here in at NHS, which makes the site pretty much indistinguishable from any other time of year, except that behind the scenes I’m spending money on other people. I do not enjoy this. I like my money. I’d like to have more of it. And then spend it on myself. Alas, that Xbox One my dad is getting the kiddos won’t play itself and that means some games for the kids and a second controller and maybe something for myself along the way. It all works out in the end.


This week’s round-up is decidedly half-assed. Below the fold you’ll find links and videos for Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2, and Elite: Dangerous; three games that all look incredibly good. I don’t remember the last time I was well and truly excited for the next year of games. It’s been a long time, but I am wildly excited for 2014. Steam boxes. Dragon Age: Inquisition. Banner Saga. FTL for iPad. About a half-dozen other projects I’m forgetting about. Oooh. Witcher 3, too! I’m definitely into getting my Witcher on. I like this feeling.

In the meantime, I would imagine the site is going to go very quiet for a couple of weeks. I don’t know what, if anything, Matt and Michael have planned, but I’m taking at least the next week off and possibly the next two. Brandon was out for the year a couple weeks ago, claiming nothing new was coming. I call him a shirker. We will have a podcast up next Monday. In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy holiday season and hope you all get a little new gaming goodness under the Christmas tree!


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Cracked LCD- Level 7 [Omega Protocol] in Review


Level  7 [Omega Protocol], a new dungeon crawler from Privateer Press, is proof positive that a game doesn’t have to necessarily innovate or reinvent its genre to be a best-in-class example of it. But that’s not to say that this title do any innovating or reinventing of its own.  There are a couple of really quite brilliant ideas that help to modernize a title that at its root really isn’t all that much different from some of the top names in the dungeon crawl/”Dudes in a Hall” genre.

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Brakketology Plays Waterdeep, Muses About Theme

Lords of Waterdeep Cover

I’ve bee playing a bit of Playdek’s Lords of Waterdeep on iOS ($7). This wholly competent boardgame adaptation should be right up my alley. It’s D&D-themed, which I like. It’s a worker-placement game, which tends to be the sort of thing I appreciate and excel at. And yet it’s ultimately rather hollow. Not bad, mind you, the core game mechanics are very good and faithfully translated. Playdek, from whom I received a free code to download this game (full-disclosure and all), could not have done a better job of translating this for iOS. The problem is that the D&D aspects of it don’t add anything to the game. At all. And yet, as an iOS port of a game that doesn’t have many Apps Store counterparts, I can’t help but recommend it for fans of worker-placement games. It’s good enough to be worth your time.

More on Waterdeep, as well as thoughts on the PAR closure and some new Elder Scrolls Online trailers, after the break…

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Jumping the Shark Podcast Episode #196

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise /

Alright, so we may have missed a couple of weeks this time. That’s no reason not to be excited about a fresh 15 minutes of Brandon and I debating the merits of the movie Pitch Perfect and its inherently awesome, in no way pandering, use of Don’t Your Forget About Me. Also, don’t forget about us either, because we, like, also spend an hour talking about games and stuff too.

First up, I tie a bow around my XCOM: Enemy Within experience. This just in: It’s Good. Then it’s off the city of Waterdeep so I can talk to the lords therein about why, despite a very polished iOS port, the D&D theme means almost nothing to actual game experience and how Firefly: The Board Game does theme and licensing so much better. Then it’s a short metro train ride down to PS4-ville where Brandon spends some time amongst the falling shadows of Killzone, the build it up and break it apart world of Knack, and the pretty colors of Contrast, all while taking along his trusty Resogun. (If puns were ever a good thing –they’re really not– that would’ve been the most fantabulous sentence anyone has ever written. Ever. But it’s not, so instead you are all entitled to say mean things about me on Twitter. It’s okay. I deserve it.)


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Cracked LCD- Firefly: The Board Game in Review


If you’re looking at licensing a cult TV show to a board games manufacturer, I’ve got a hot tip for you. Gale Force Nine and the crack team of Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski, and Sean Sweigart should be at the top of your meeting schedule. This company (previously known primarily as a maker of miniatures gaming supplies) and these designers are two for two with last year’s Cracked LCD Game of the Year shortlister Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery and this year’s outstanding board game based on the almost fanatically revered (and short-lived) Firefly TV series. Continue Reading…

Brakketology Plays The Walking Dead and Enemy Within

XCOM The Final Team

I had a plan. It included skipping Brakketology last week. It’s a holiday and there wasn’t much happening that I was interested in writing about. I mean sure, I did land an Xbox One on launch day, but that’s all considerably less exciting when it’s a gift for the kids that will go unopened until December 25th. (I am trusting you with this secret. Mum is the word.) I’m rather proud of myself, actually, for not so much as opening the box, which I was sorely tempted to do. Not part of the plan was our esteemed Mr. Abner landing the flu Sunday night, forcing us to cancel the podcast. We’re definitely sorry not to have an episode go up yesterday, but Brandon and I will get something recorded this week and up for next Monday.

And so it goes.

In the meantime things are happening…

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Warage Review


You’ll realise, no doubt, that Warage is a clever play on words. Making a compound of “war” and “age” cunningly creates the word “rage”, conjuring the white heat of fantasy melees, the ancient and primal fury felt my elf for orc and vice versa. It’s a smart title.

The game underlying it is not smart. It’s a dumb game, but it’s dumb in a good way, the sort of way that an overly playful rottweiler puppy is dumb, full of teeth and fluff and eagerness. It’s a game where you slap down cards, gloat and chug back beer.

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Cracked LCD- Yedo in Review


More than few people online and out in the real world complained that last year’s smash hit Lords of Waterdeep was lacking. Lacking depth, lacking substance, lacking narrative, lacking theme, whatever. Frankly, I think these folks are lacking good taste but boy howdy do I have a game on the table for them. If you’re one of these people that liked the core worker placement gameplay- driven by quest cards and featuring more direct interaction and interference than typical of the genre- then Pandasaurus’ Yedo ought to be on your Christmas list this year. The game plays very much like a meatier, richer, and more complicated version of Waterdeep in Feudal Japanese drag but it wouldn’t quite be fair to call it an extrapolation or extension of that game’s concept because it very much marks its own territory in the worker placement genre. I’m not even sure if the designers of Yedo had ever played Waterdeep before working through Yedo’s development, but some notable parallels are definitely there. Continue Reading…

Brakketology Faces the Inquisition


Here there be dragons. We’re jumping right in this week. There’s a 30-minute gameplay video of Dragon Age: Inquisition that has, so far, managed to survive YouTube scrutiny. It’s from Bioware presentation given to attendees at Digiexpo (whatever that is) and, for fans of the series, it’s worth taking the time to watch. Some highlights:

  • Right from the get go, they’re quick to point out that the area they’re traveling in is bigger than all of Dragon Age 2. Me thinks Bioware still feels a wee bit stung by criticism of DA2 being too small. The thing is, size and scale were never Dragon Age 2′s problem.
  • Combat does look like a meld of both of the DA games. At about 18 minutes in they show off the tactical camera, which is available in the console versions this time around. That said, it still looks a bit arcadey, though it’s impossible to say when you’re watching someone else control the action. There is also a section that shows off group tactics that feels very DA2. I’m hopeful, but this is the kind of thing you have to be hands-on to get a feel for.
  • Combat difficulty does not scale based on your character level. This is a good thing, so long as the world is designed properly.
  • Lots of emphasis on decision-making in this video. In this case, do you defend a town from vile beasties or do you stock up the nearby keep to prevent it from being lost. This element overarches the entire 30 minute demo and is very promising as your choice does appear to affect both the world at large and the members of your party. Yes, yes, appearances can be deceiving and they often are. If you skip ahead, however, to the 24-minute mark, you get a good (narrated) summary of how this particular decision can effect the world at large.
  • Speaking of the world, the 14-minute mark has a world map view that is cool for series fans as it actually shows elements of the DA-verse that we’ve only heard of so far, but not seen. I don’t think I’ve seen a map that showed more than Ferelden (and Kirkwall) and getting to see where some of the nations are in relation to each other was worth geeking out over.

I’ve embedded the video after the break, along with your usual dish of Brakketology-style musings…

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