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Omen: Reign of War in Review

John Clowdus, whom I always think is actually named Evan Williams because the first time I met him he was drinking it, runs a small DIY card games company called Small Box Games. He’s done a lot of interesting designs and some quite nearly great ones, but his newest release is where it all comes together. This is a great two player card game with lots of tension, drama, and conflict. Oh, and it looks freaking outstanding. If you’re in the market for a quick-playing game of this nature with easy rules (seriously, they’re like four small pages) or if you want that CCG-ish feeling without the investment then this is thirty bucks well spent. You can only get this at the Small Box Games Web site, so don’t bother hitting up your FLGS for it. You can also take a look at the rules and their other fine games while you’re visiting there as well. Wax, Insyllium, Irondale, Agoniste, and Politico are the other ones you should look at more closely.

As for the Omen review, it’s back on the Mothership, because they pay me to put it there.

What's This? More Mount & Blade Warband Codes?

Did you enter our awesome Mount & Blade: Warband Contest where we gave away five GamersGate codes?

Did you lose? (You probably lost.)

The folks that won…isn’t that game great?

I come bearing great news. We have two more Warband codes to give away! Yes! Right now! I was going to open up the contest again but figured the people who signed up originally should get a chance at redemption. We’ll have another giveaway very soon, promise.

The two additional winners are:

Crowfoot68 and Tassatus

I’ll email the winners their codes momentarily. Of course I could have done this all privately but then you wouldn’t see what a nice fellow I am. (Well, unless you lost again….sorry about that.)

Trail of Brotherhood coming from Arkham Horror designer Richard Launius

Sometime back in 2005 this guy came walking into my store, Atlanta Game Factory. He looked totally out of place among the ne’er-do-wells, nicely dressed in an gentlemanly overcoat and he looked a little bit like an older Steve McQueen. He picked up a couple of games and brought them to the counter, introducing himself in a baritone that would make a tent revival preacher jealous. “I’m Richard Launius, I designed a game called Arkham Horror.” Over the years I got to game frequently with Richard (and discovered that he actually did PC game development in the 80s and was a VP at a major telecom firm). Not only do I consider him a friend, I consider him one of the nicest, most honest, and passionate gamers I’ve ever met in my life. He’s also ridiculously prolific although only Arkham Horror and Defenders of the Realm have seen print. I’ve seen tons of the man’s unpublished board game prototypes. There’s A LOT of them. One of them that he showed me years ago was Trail of the Brotherhood, a co-op/competitive title that pit investigator players against an adversarial occultist player trying to do Lovecraftian bad things to the world. It looked pretty interesting.

Now, a weird company I’ve never heard of called Eos Sama out of China (!!!) is announcing that Trail of the Brotherhood is on their books and going to press, expected on shelves sometime in May. Surprise! Their Web site is very odd, the header has the wrong title (“Trail of Brotherhood”), and the press release is obviously written by a non-native English writer which worries me about the text contents of the game. An excerpt:

Sorcerer Player: In Trail of the Brotherhood one devious player takes on the role of the ancient sorcerer traveling the globe seeking to unify independent cults into The Brotherhood. It is the goal of this player to gain enough Power through the cults and utilize a magical item to summon forth the Old One (Chosen by him prior to starting the game). In order to do this the player will need to prevent the Investigators that pursue him from learning which Great Old One he seeks to awaken. He can do this a number of different ways, including direct attacks from cults in the brotherhood, misdirection and the summoning lesser creatures to do his battles. Once the Sorcerer player achieves joining enough cults to The Brotherhood to provide the power needed to summon the slumbering Old One and possesses the magic item required to complete the ceremony, he can awaken the Old One and win the game.

Investigative Players: The other players (1-3 players) take the role of Investigative Teams. It will be their job to disrupt The Brotherhood, prevent them from gaining enough power to summon an Old One into this world and ultimately to identify through discovery of Clues left in the wake of The Brotherhood’s activities the magic item required for the ceremony – then to obtain that item by taking it from a Cult or the Sorcerer and destroying it, condemning the Old One to continued slumber…at least for now.

Trail of the Brotherhood is part adventure and part deductive strategy as the players enter the desperate world H.P. Lovecraft.

There it is then. I’m going to try to track down a review copy to cover in my weekly column.

New L.A. Noire Trailer

Despite how much we have railed on and on about the L.A. Noire pre-order/pre-release shenanigans (and yes they are shenanigans) I know I’m still very much looking forward to playing it. More because of the genre and less because it’s a Rockstar game.

I’d also be flatly lying to you if I said I didn’t have concerns. Watch the trailer. You see some really “gamey” things in it like moving the L Sick to find a “point of interest” on an object until it vibrates. I’m hoping that the “detective work” isn’t spoon-fed to you by vibrating controllers and obvious clues.

The latest trailer details how you will “rise through the ranks” of the LAPD. You start off as a patrolman–you’re everyday beat cop, and you then move on to “traffic detective”, homicide, vice, etc.

Fable III on…Steam?

Well, isn’t that interesting. Microsoft has opted to release the PC edition of Fable III via the Games for Windows Marketplace, in retail stores, and on Steam.

Of course, there IS a catch:

Fable III will be available for pre-order on both Steam and Games for Windows Marketplace starting 21 April. Fans who pre-order through Games for Windows Marketplace will receive “Fable: Lost Chapters” – the start of the Fable saga – for free! And those who purchase on Steam will receive the Rebel’s Weapon & Tattoo Pack, a collection of four exclusive weapons and five exclusive tattoo sets to customize their rebel hero. No matter how players decide to purchase “Fable III,” they will have access to the same exciting content as Xbox 360 players, including riveting Game Add-ons like Traitor’s Keep, in addition to new features like a more challenging “Hardcore” mode and 3-D functionality.

And, apparently, if you decide to buy it at a retail store…


Hi-Rez Studios Announces Smite

Hi-Rez Studios is located “just outside of Atlanta” so maybe Barnes and Brandon can drive over and see what’s what?

PR ahead:

Hi-Rez Studios, the award winning independent developer of Global Agenda, announced today they are developing SMITE, a free-to-play online battleground between gods. Players choose from a selection of mythical gods, join session-based arena combat, and use custom powers and team tactics against other player-controlled gods and non-player controlled minions.

“As a studio and as gamers, we love competitive multi-player games that reward teamwork and strategy”, says Todd Harris, Hi-Rez Studios COO. “With SMITE, we draw inspiration from DoTA-style RTS titles*, but leverage the Unreal 3 Engine to introduce action oriented combat mechanics, great graphics, and a mythology-themed setting. These session-based games depend upon balanced class design, sophisticated stat-tracking, and matchmaking functionality. These are features we understand well from Global Agenda and our studio is excited to progress team-oriented PvP in new and original directions with SMITE. At this point we already have a really fun playable version of SMITE and we look forward to sharing additional details about the project in the coming months.”

*He’s talking about Defense of the Ancients.

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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Dev Diary

Another developer diary for The Witcher 2 is online, with subtitles. This one discusses character development and when Producer Tomasz Gop says “I could talk about it for hours” he’s not kidding.

Gop will talk your ear off about The Witcher. Terribly nice fellow, though.

In fact it’s easy to root for a group like CD Projekt. I recall the first time I saw The Witcher. It was at E3 when I was freelancing for GameSpy and Dave “Fargo” Kosak and I had an appointment to see the game inside the Staples Center — which is weird because E3 isn’t in the Staples Center it’s inside the Convention Center. So obviously we got lost.

Showing up 15 minutes late didn’t dampen the team’s spirits at all and they had their own room with this big projector and you could just tell that these guys loved what they were doing and wanted to share it with anyone who would listen which at that time wasn’t very many people. Think about it — unknown developer (to us anyway) based off fantasy novels which we had never heard of (again, Americans!) and they didn’t even have a booth inside convention center. The nerve.

After the presentation Fargo had to leave and I had an hour to kill and it was the team’s final meeting of the day so we just sat down, in this room decked out with wolf’s head pentagrams and posters of half naked women (if you played The Witcher this will all make sense, sort of) and we just talked shop for about 45 minutes. We spoke about rpg design, about the PC as a platform, on The Witcher’s development, and so on. I think they offered me vodka but don’t hold me to that. I became a fan of CD at that moment.

We’re human, after all. We can’t be jaded all the time and when you talk to developers who are that enthusiastic it rubs off on you. So I’m hoping — and expecting — big things from The Witcher 2.

Prototype 2 Trailer

Prototype: the game that gave me more gamer fatigue than any in recent memory has a sequel coming that’s due in 2012.

The trailer discusses what has happened to Alex Mercer (hint: he’s a dick) and shows off the new protagonist. This game is clearly in the “wait and see” camp for me. There are a lot of design issues that need to be rectified before I get excited about another Prototype game. Hopefully we’ll get some more info on this one soon.

Egypt on Your iPad

Unlike Todd’s post about Hunters: Episode One on the iPad, I haven’t played Egypt Engineering an Empire. However, I’m a sucker for anything like this and I don’t know of too many games in this genre on that platform, so it might be worth investigating. I mean come on: Egyptians, Syrians, Persians, Babylonians? I have to at least try this.

Some info:

HISTORY Egypt Engineering an Empire allows players to build their own empire from its foundations to the height of its power. Acting as the leader of a territory from the Egyptian Empire, players manage all aspects of its rise, from economic growth to political power, the development of armies, and expansion into other regions by war and diplomacy.

There’s a line about rich graphics and gameplay which I’ll choose to ignore, but head over to the game’s product page for screens and additional information. I’m going to grab this today.

A Game of Thrones: Genesis Screenshots

Focus Home and Cyanide released a batch of screenshots today for its upcoming spin on A Game of Thrones. Now, it’s true, we don’t normally post screenshots but I thought this was a bit topical since the show just started. Plus, hey we may start posting more screenshots and this seemed a good time to start.

Speaking of, what did everyone think of episode 1?

On to the pics…

These new screenshots show off the coast of Dorne where Queen Nymeria and her people landed, as well as the troops of House Tyrell confronting House Lannister.

Click on the image for a high res screen.