LOTR: The Death of Isildur

Well, the title says it all! James did give me a chance, however, to change canon by winning or fleeing. But Isildur got surrounded pretty early on and went down in one round.


An ambush lies ahead!


The Orc captain awaits…


The column advances…


Isildur and the ring sink to the bottom of the Anduin

LOTR: The Last Alliance of Elves and Men

We played Sauron vs. The assembled elves and humans last night. The heroes on the side of good were Isildur, Elendil, Gilgalad and Elrond. We didn’t have a Sauron figure, so… well, you’ll see.


The Last Alliance lines up


Sauron makes his entrance


Orcs clash with elves and men


The heroes face Sauron


Cast the ring into the fire Isildur!

LOTR: Tutorial Shenanigans

Hey all! James introduced me to the LOTR war game recently. He ran me a little tutorial session in which I had to rescue a bunch of besieged elves and humans with Isildur. All the Numenoreans died… Racist elves…


The Numenoreans prepare to defend the hill


The orcs storm the hill


Forget Sauron! What’s that in the sky?


They are coming…


The funeral for the last Numenorean to perish. He died on the last turn!

Nostalgia Lane: Pika pika!

Awesome news for Pokemon fans: I (Claire) am making James play Pokemon Yellow. See, he missed out on the Pokemon craze when it first swept through the English speaking world. He was a couple of years too old for it. But finally, perhaps through my nagging, or through meme saturation, or through the fact that I got a Pokemon pyjama shirt the other day, I convinced him to play!


The current line-up

He’s been regaling our facebook friends with tales of his journeys:


I’ve been feeling very nostalgic about games for a little while. Currently I’m playing Final Fantasy IX (maybe I’ll write a little bit about that soon 🙂 ) and the other day I went to the best little store I never knew about before… it’s called Vinyl Destination, and it’s in Birkenhead, Auckland. If you’re in town, you should definitely drop by. It’s like getting into a time machine back to the ’90s. We came away with House of M and World War Hulk for $10 and $6 respectively (a total steal!) and the Star Trek TNG VHS game!!! We’ll have to let you know what it’s like after we’ve played it. But seriously, this store had old segas in it, MAD magazines, it was just awesome!

So what are you nostalgic for? And are you able to play it still, or is it impossible to find now?

Quick Update and… A Rant about Video Games

Hey Sky Bear-ites! Claire here. A quick apology for being so long in writing to you. I have a few updates to give you, before I break into the meat of my blog post. I’ve gone to IT school and I’m learning programming the proper way ;). Cat Capers has been successfully funded and is about to be printed! Exciting times. Also, for a long, long overdue update on Prince of Cats, my visual novel/life sim: James had a play with the first test of it, and there’s a lot of bugs. Also, we’re going to need a lot of art for it… so it may be a long time coming, but I’m determined to get the game made and hopefully one day put it on Play Store or Steam!

So, the topic of my rant is about me and video games, and being a completionist. How many others of you out there are completionists? Does it drive you crazy if you can’t get all the trophies for a game?

Let me tell you about the last few games I’ve played, just to give you a picture of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to completing games.

Final Fantasy XII – replaying this game for the first time since 2007, I decided to try and do it 100%, as I have done with Final Fantasies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10-2, 13, and 13-2. However, after dedicating over 100 hours to this game, I just had to give up when I hit the last three bosses which were just impossible for me to beat. Zodiark kept killing me time and time again. It was purely random when its unavoidable death attack would just hit all of my characters… And then Yiazmat… look, with this guy, I just set the character AI onto the best combo and sat there playing cards with James for about 2 hours. It was just so boring and repetitive! To the point where I was like, how is this even a game? I didn’t even bother going to face the ultimate boss at that point, I was just DONE. As you can see from my list before, I also have yet to 100% complete Final Fantasy 9. But I’m almost too nervous to try, seeing how ridiculous 12 was. And I’ve tried to do 10 as well, but that is also very, stupidly hard.


And another thing, what kind of princess wears this ridiculous outfit?!

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to go from one JRPG to another, but I did. And this game is worse than your average JRPG – it’s cloyingly cute and because its all about alchemy and time management, it is extremely tedious and repetitive… and frankly just stressful. But you know what? Me being me, I had to 100% it. WHY?! The only thing saving it from me giving up was the fact that, with knowledge of the hidden game mechanics, I was able to easily 100% it. It’s just that it took a long, long time. I have Atelier Totori, the sequel, which I’ve never played… and honestly, I’m scared to go near it.

To compare, this is a game I played earlier this year: Long Live the Queen. I LOVE this game. It’s got everything I love about the visual novel/life sim genre, whilst also adding in a lot of its own unique stuff. I bring this up because I want to compare it to Atelier Rorona: cute anime style without being cloying, and many different endings but shorter game length so it doesn’t take your whole friggin’ life to finish. I’ve 100%ed this game, and I recommend it to anyone interested in checking out the life sim genre.


And to 100% the game, you have to have the queen die in lots of different ways!

So having finished Atelier Rorona and being turned right off long RPG style games for a bit, I turned back to my roots as a gamer – 90s console platformers. I got the Spyro trilogy on my PS3. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this series as a kid. I vaguely remembered that I loved 1 and 2, and that 3 was not as much of a favourite for some reason. So I played the first of the trilogy, and in about 5 hours it was done and dusted. I was sublimely happy. It was a game that was so simple to finish, but to finish 100% you had to do some clever little tricks to find hidden areas. And they even reward you with a cute little bonus level at the end for trying so hard. Way to go, Spyro!


That’s just what it felt like

So keenly I loaded up Spyro 2. Things started to go immediately downhill. First off you’re greeted by an annoying cast of extra characters and more plot than you would care for. I just wanna be a dragon and fly and charge and spit fire and stuff! I don’t care! But anyway, I was enjoying it to start with, but things started to creep out of the woodwork that made me less than impressed. Minigames? Skills I haven’t learnt yet, so I’ll have to come back later? See, the thing about Spyro 1 is that all the tools you need are there, and if you can’t 100% a level, it’s not cos you’re missing a skill from later in the game… it’s cos you’re dumb and you suck because you’re not smart enough to figure out the puzzle. But besides that, which is a minor complaint, now in order to get 100%, you have to play minigames to collect all the orbs or whatever. And if you’re not super fricking dexterous, you’re just gonna lose. What annoys me the most is that this is a game for children! How much nerd cred am I gonna lose if I don’t beat this 100%?!


Anytime I see this guy waiting for me, I just know I’m in for a bad time.

And I guess it comes down to this, with me and games. I play them to de-stress, have fun and enjoy myself. I mean, doesn’t everyone? So why would I want to play this game which is totally stressing me out because my fingers aren’t fast enough? Seriously, comment below if you feel differently, because I always felt like the point of any game was to have FUN. And I know a lot of games have changed that, with repetitive crap like fetch quests. And so I’m interested in hearing from you if you figure differently.

See the funny thing is, I do eventually, through absolute frustration, reach a point in my game where I realise, OK, it’s all right if I don’t 100% this. The best example of this is a game I’m playing through right now in my 90s nostalgia binge: Disney’s Hercules. I remembered from when I was a kid that the Hero’s Gauntlet level was near impossible to get 100% on, and so there was no point in trying. So instead, I’ve just been having fun and playing that. Another game that I played through and didn’t even try to go for trophies was the Mass Effect trilogy. No way am I ever going to try the higher difficulty levels. But I made my peace with that, it’s an excellent series and I don’t have to get 100% to enjoy the full story of that game (though I did have to buy all the DLC, but that’s another story)

Eventually I got to the point in Final Fantasy 12, and 10 as well in the past, where I went OK, not going to 100%, that’s fine, and I just finished the game and let the stress of not being 100% roll off my back. Am I a massive overachiever? Yes, totally, that’s just the way I was brought up, so I feel physical pain over this stupid inability to get 100%. Just like when at IT school if I get A rather than A+. But I know I’m not the only person out there who feels this way.

Happily, this story ends on a high note. I just finished my replay of my favourite game ever, Tombi (or Tomba if you’re in the US, for some reason they marketed it differently??). And even that game has it’s frustrating flaws: the gold medal race if really hard unless you follow some advice you find on the internet to the letter. But you’ll be happy to know I finished it 100%. And I saved a second save in my favourite spot in the game, the best and most relaxing: in the Dwarf Forest, before the pigs have arrived, you can slide down the leafy hills and catch Leaf Buutterflies to your heart’s content, while listening to one of the best backing tracks of all time. Bliss.


It’s the simple things in life

Now if only the Playstation Network sold Tombi 2…

Battlecry Report

20150222_123254 So yesterday we went to Battlecry and it was awesome!!! We’re going to do a proper breakdown of our game Long White Cloud in another post soon, but suffice to say that a good time was had by all, and in fact the same people who played our game in the first round wanted to play again in the second round! Everything went really smoothly and James and I are feeling very optimistic! This picture is of us with the prizes that Karen, the organiser, gave to our players: kumara, because the adventure was about the best kumara in the world. Awesome!!

Also, here is our obligatory radswag picture: free dice, the Ghost Stories board game, two D&D 4th ed. books, and a bag of kumara!!!


Battlecry Convention this weekend!

logo So this weekend James and I will be at the Battlecry Convention at the Remuera Bridge Club in Auckland. I’ve been the last two (or was it three?) years, and James has been going since goodness knows when. It’s always a really fun time, so if you’re in the Auckland area you should definitely come along. It’s Saturday and Sunday 21st and 22nd of February, and it’s gold coin entry.

While we’re there James and I intend to mainly showcase our second playtest of our brand new Long White Cloud RPG system, with a whole new adventure. But besides that James might be doing some extra GMing, and we might also showcase our currently unnamed cat themed board game (possibly on the shelves by Christmas, but more on that later, shh!) and our newest concoction, a card game called Let Sleeping Dragons Lie. But we’ll see, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.

Hope you can make it!

The Ink Forge Games, Day Two


So, day two was pretty good! Not as much swag as yesterday, cos we spent a lot of money yesterday, but we did get in two playtests of our RPG Long White Cloud. It went pretty well! Between the two playtests we made a couple of rules changes and things went more smoothly. Also we took turns GMing. Over all we’re happy with the system. We tried to put choice into the system because we believe choice is a good thing in RPGs, but we think we could make it simpler still. There were a few too many choices. But the core mechanics are solid. After a break, we’ll formulate more goals for this system and our creative work in general. But we need a break of about 24 hours I think!

20150125_181729And our swag: James bought 8 D&D minis, the Lord of the Rings The Two Towers CCG, and we won Maximum Throwdown!!! We’ll have to demo it sometime.

Really looking forward to the associated gaming con, Battlecry, next month!

The Ink Forge Games, Day One

DSC_0136DSC_0135So I’ve just gotten home from the first day of the Ink Forge Games here in Auckland. James and I got there around about the opening time to find people either set up or setting up. We had a quick browse around the stalls and entered a couple of competitions: a mystery game scavenger hunt and guess the dice in the dice jar.

Then we settled in to playing our friend Corey’s game, Tombstone. It’s a Wild West Role Playing Game of his own design, and we found it really fun! I felt that the mechanics were nicely designed towards the genre we were playing in. I got to play 2 characters, which was fun: 20150124_114225the holy roller, and the gambler, who I decided was a prostitute from the saloon. James was an Indian brave who was pretty angry at “Whitey” in general (and he ended up riding off into the sunset with Delilah the whore). The other guy we played with was the Clint Eastwood type of folk hero. You can see my two 20150124_100952character sheets lying on top of the rule book in the picture to the left, and to the right is the map of the town. Guess what! We managed to resolve everything peacefully, and no one died, although a few people got shot! But it wouldn’t have been a western without that.



Next, we entered more competitions to win games. We had to solve the Tantrix challenge, which was pretty easy. Then we played “Goblins Drool, Faeries Rule”, and I think we will have to pick up a copy of that because it was wonderful! We’ve looked at it before and thought “rhyming game? that sounds dumb” but actually it was a pretty cool mechanic and there was a lot more strategy to the game than we originally imagined. After that we played “MAXIMUM THROWDOWN” (I had to yell that out really loud in order to be the first player, James was too chicken, but everyone in the con thought I was weird after that) which is just plain silly. The main mechanic of the game is throwing cards. Let’s just say, we’re not really good at aiming, so the game was a little hard for us. “Agent Hunter” was the final competition game we played, and actually had a fair amount of strategy to it. It just took us a while to understand that. And I lost, because I made some reeeeeally dumb mistakes.


Finally we stopped downstairs to do some shopping. We stopped by the Edo Jidai stand to pick up a copy. It’s locally made (the creator and his son are pictured above) and we’ve been meaning to pick up a copy ever since we first saw it at Armageddon Expo last year. If you want to find out more, go to http://www.the-edo-jidai-game.com/. We’ll tell you more about it when we play it!

We also stopped to buy a few comics from the New Zealand Comics and Collectibles stand. You can find them at https://www.facebook.com/groups/728749353827749/

So to finish, here is picture of all our radswag from today. Oh dear… Much of this is second hand. We got: Legend of the Burning Sands TCG, Star Trek TCG, Harry Potter TCG, 2 D&D books, 3 Legend of the Five Rings Books and 2 boxes, 7th Sea TCG, Wars TCG booster pack, bag and t-shirt, 3 Dragonlance comics, a Victorian costume pattern, Vampire Bloodlines PC Game, Edo Jidai, 2 free d20s, and GASP!!!! The Ghostbusters RPG!!

20150124_170018(0)I’ll be reporting again tomorrow to let you know how our first ever playtest of Long White Cloud goes!

The Ink Forge Games is tomorrow!!


So James and I are getting all pumped for the first Ink Forge Games convention. It’s an offshoot of Battlecry Convention, which will be held next month. Ink Forge will focus on the creative side of gaming – writers, artists, game designers etc. putting their work on show.

We’re excited to look at the art and games on offer, but especially for a few more reasons:

  • A guy we know is running a game that he made, and we want to play it
  • We want to take along our cat board game to show to board game publishers and hopefully come to a deal
  • On Sunday we are playtesting our new RPG system ‘Long White Cloud’!!

So I’ll write to you this time tomorrow and let you know how it goes!