Saturday, January 05, 2013

What I've Been Up To

Wow has it been a long time since I posted. Some updates--
  • I play a lot of Magic now. It's basically a once a week (or more) habit. That's cooled off a little in the last couple of weeks but I've been busy with holiday stuff and a new set comes out at the end of the month so who knows.
  • I play RPGs once-or-twice a month with Risus Monkey and his crew. We're starting a new campaign and ending an old one soon so that should be fun.
  • I'm on G+ on-and-off, and I talk a lot with Trollsmyth. That's where a lot of the game thoughts that once-upon-a-time would have ended up on the blog have been going.
  • Work lately has been being on the computer a lot, doing very repetitive, computer-y tasks, so by the time I get home I am sick of it and want to be off the screen for a while.
And here's a thought:

RPG design is in a lot of ways amateur-hour, compared to the games that make Real Companies Real Money. 

Getting outside of D&D for a while and playing a lot of another (much more financially successful) game has been eye opening in that regard. There's a lot of stuff that people in Magic design know and think about and talk about that just never comes up in RPGs. Or the reverse-- there's a lot of pointless stuff that RPG people fight about that never comes up in Magic because people have better things to do with their time.

Like: different people play the game in different ways and for different reasons is basically taken for granted in Magic. When players complain about a card the standard response from the designers is "Of course you don't like it. It's not for you." Everyone with aspirations to Magic design accepts and understands this. Understanding this makes Wizards an awful lot of money, so they have an incentive.

There are still fights on the player/community level, of course. But RPGs are, in comparison, basically all player/community.


  1. It is -amazing_ how many people in RPGs are too dumb to know not everyone is them.

  2. I played a fair bit of MtG back in Ye Olden Dayes (basically starting around the time Arabian Nights came out and drifting away around the time Ice Age was released). I've been giving some thought lately to jumping back into that world. Your points about the different tenor of that particular gaming crowd are only adding to my interest.

    The amateur hour element of the RPG hobby has really been wearing on me lately. I'm about to start up a Cthulhu by Gaslight campaign, and the number of typos in the latest edition of the Gaslight sourcebook (released less than a year ago) is alarming. As is the bickering going on in the Cthulhu fan community over the forthcoming 7th edition, which dares to actually introduce a few minor rules tweaks, and the predictable freak-outs and edition wars that are already flaring up. Someone cogently observed that the differences between the current and upcoming edition are about on par with the shift from 3e to 3.5, but some people are acting like Chaosium's going from Basic D&D to 4e in one fell swoop.

    And lastly, allow me to formally register my supreme jealousy that there's a gaming group that contains both yourself AND Risus Monkey and that I'm not part of it. ;)

    1. Echoing Natalie, you'd totally be welcome to drop in on one of our games. And *hopefully* I'll be increasing my own blog/community presence soon. Life disruptions have started to settle out.

      And hey Natalie, we'll miss you this weekend. Assuming we play. I seem to have a bug that has robbed me of my voice.

  3. Zak: It is amazing how many people are too dumb to know not everyone is them.

    David: I know! That group is amazing. If you're ever in the DC area for a weekend you should come chill with us.

    Magic is really, really good right now. The flavor is good and the design is good and they're really well integrated. The crowd itself-- ie., the player base-- is pretty much the same pack of raving sub-humans everywhere in gaming (with a few bright spots) but because of the nature of the game your fun generally isn't as impacted by your fellow player's deficiencies.

    1. Any insulation against raving sub-humans is always welcome.

      Are there any particular packs/expansions you're particularly fond of, or that you'd steer clear of? Any other advice for an old salt looking to jump back in?

    2. "The Boy" discovered MTG this Christmas, and we've been using 'event decks' - 60 card precons with sideboards. They seem like a good casual way to play without cracking tons of boosters or grabbing singles, and they seem like a few more rares could tune them up.

      Oh, and welcome back to the blogs Oddysey!

    3. David: Hmmm... out of what's in print right now I like Innistrad best. It's a gothic horror set-- if you like werewolves, zombies, ghosts, and vampires, Innistrad has 'em in spades. If "Phyrexian" means anything to you, you might want to check out New Phyrexia.

      The thing I always tell people who are getting into/back into the game is Duels of the Planeswalkers. It's a pretty good video game and gives you a good understanding of the basic rules-- which have changed some since Ice Age. Uh. Which may have changed a lot, actually. Do the words "the stack" mean anything to you?

      Beedo: Sweet. Yeah, the event decks are really great. They're very uprgradeable-- both by adding new rares, and just additional copies of the rares they already have. Which ones do you guys have?

    4. We have the event decks from Ravnica, Avacyn, and 2013. I figure by Gencon next summer, we'll have started building our own. I second the recommendation to try Duel of the Planeswalker or even the iPad version (Magic 2013); that's how the kid learned, and there's a ton of playability. I had previously played around Ice Age as well, stopping sometime after the Tempest block.

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