My Top Ten Games of 2017: #10

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Fire Emblem Heroes

Last year saw my first ever mobile game inclusion in my annual Top Ten Games of the Year list with Pokémon GO. Yet another Nintendo-adjacent property squeaks into my list this year with Fire Emblem Heroes.

Unlike Pokémon GO, Fire Emblem Heroes is a reasonable facsimile of its venerable tactical strategy-RPG series. By smartly condensing battle maps into the exact size of a phone screen (or tablet), the series was translated reasonably well onto the mobile platform. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #10”

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DMs Guild Review: The Amulet of Shavaka

A press copy of The Amulet of Shavaka was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Phil Beckwith
Published by: P.B. Publishing

DMs Guild ReviewOne theme I find lacking in the official Fifth Edition campaign books is a proper Arabian Nights adventure. I want mysterious deserts, dangerous tombs, exotic rituals, and forbidden threats.

The Amulet of Shavaka” is a self-contained one-shot dungeon that touches upon many of these themes. The 16-page adventure tasks the PCs with exploring a Mummy’s undead-filled tomb at the edge of a desert. It’s designed for a party of level 2 PCs (with adjustments for 1-3) with an estimated play time of 4-6 hours.

The story hook is as basic as they come. A character named Elel seeks out the PCs based on the stories he’s heard (though they’re level 2, how many famed stories can there be?). He’s been sent to retrieve an amulet from the Tomb of Shavaka and knows the location, but doesn’t want to go inside for reasons that will soon become clear. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review: The Amulet of Shavaka”

The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 8 “How It’s Gotta Be” Recap

You deserve better than this, Carl.

The 90-minute mid-season finale unfolded pretty much as I predicted, with the Saviors striking back swiftly and brutally against all three communities. I did not expect it to end with a far left field bomb drop in the discovery that Carl has been bitten, and his days are numbered.

We picked up right where last week left off, with Rick, Jadis, and the Scavengers approaching the now walker-less Sanctuary. That’s a dumb idea; gunfire erupts from the building, and the Scavengers scatter. So long subplot that went absolutely nowhere! Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 8 “How It’s Gotta Be” Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 33 Recap

In the spider-infested caves beneath Morgur’s Mound we deal with a demon in disguise.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

I softly landed on the ground, glancing back across the chasm to nod at my companions. I crept up to the dead bodies, noting this area of the caves was seemingly the only section not covered in spider webs. 

Movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see a young man emerge from a shadowy corner. He wore a garish red shawl that nearly covered his body head to toe, and his limp gait suggested he was injured. 

“Are you here to save us?” He spoke weakly. My initial reaction was to move to help the man, but I remembered the hastily scrawled note we’d found in the dead mans hands.

I made no move. “Are you Jarys?” I asked flatly.

The man seemed surprised. “Yes! Thank goodness you’ve come.” He began to limp his way closer to me, and I caught myself stepping backward.

“What happened here?” I asked flatly.

“Those stone creatures, they killed my friends. I hid from them. They’re guarding this place. I can’t get out. But you can’t help me, can’t you?” It was a subtle change in his voice, and I caught it too late. His eyes glowed as his last sentence echoed through my mind like piercing light.

I blinked and the feeling faded. He looked at me expectantly.

I grinned. A battle of the mind? Very well.

I focused back on him, worming my way inside his mind until it lie bare before me. I inserted my will. He would not harm me nor my friends, and he would tell us exactly what happened here.

My heart sank a bit as he smiled back, even as I felt my will take hold.

“Clever,” he said, as his human form melted. He grew larger, turning a dark shade of red. Large horns sprouted from his head and a tail emerged from his back. “I will follow your commands. I will not harm you.” He whistled, the sound echoing off the cave walls. It was soon answered by terrible screaming coming from the depths of the chasm. “But my pets will.”

The mines beneath Morgur’s Mound weren’t as empty as we were hoping. The spider-infested caves gave way to a grisly scene, where a demonic creature had tricked an expedition into recovering the relic we were after.

We saw several bodies on the floor, cluing us into a recently ill-fated expedition. The guards at the entrance had been bludgeoned to death, presumably by the small army of rock constructs we’d defeated outside.

Spider webs blanketed the walls as we moved deeper. As we brushed too close to one web it exploded with swarms of spiders. Gross, but little threat to us. We took a proactive approach, blasting spider webs with cantrips and long-range attacks to clear our path.

This plan worked until we came to a small alcove. A body was clutching some items, but was surrounded in webbing. Our long-range assault destroyed some spiders, but the rest surged outward, at one point crawling all over Kazin and Bryseis. Korinn would use her Mage Hand to help brush them off Kazin while Bryseis used a Shield spell. After that it was squishing time. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 33 Recap”

D&D Rescheduled to Saturday, Dec. 9

Our awesome DM’s office holiday party is tonight, which means we have to reschedule our weekly “Storm King’s Thunder” session to tomorrow, Saturday, December. 9. Recap should go up early Sunday.

Same time (7p Pacific/10p Eastern), same channel!

Arena of Valor Class Guides: Know Your Role

While I have been (and still am) creating hero-specific guides for mobile MOBA Arena of Valor for ZAM’s new AoVStats website, I’ve now begun creating class guides.

These guides will tackle general strategies for the various roles that each hero is categorized as, such as Tank, Support, and Mage, as well as explaining how various hybrid classes work.

The first guide, Know Your Role: Tank, is live now. More to follow!

Sadly Arena of Valor is still not available in the US (I’m using a special Euro code to get in and play), and its US release has been delayed into 2018. But if you enjoy MOBAs and fancy playing one on your phone or tablet, it’s a good one, and I’ve enjoyed writing guides for it.

The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 7 “Time for After” Recap

Remember when I recapped the Savior-focused episode earlier this season and mentioned it was fine, provided they kept those to a minimum? Well you done screwed up, The Walking Dead. Just two weeks later we get yet another extended peek into the crisis at Sanctuary, this time centering on Eugene, which makes it an even worse episode.

Based on our last look at the Saviors, I was lead to believe that the show would follow the comic route with Eugene escaping with the Saviors’ doctor (whom was taken from the Hilltop) to deliver him to pregnant Maggie (at the behest of Father Gabriel). Instead the actions laid out in this week’s episode pushed Eugene even further into the arms of Negan and the saviors, though with some notable alcoholism side effects. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 7 “Time for After” Recap”