Monday, January 2, 2017

The Old Year and the New Year

Game-wise 2016 was good and bad. Thoughts on it, practical talk, and hopes for 2017 below.

My "main" campaign, Pathfinder's Wrath of the Righteous, staggered through the year with all of six sessions played. That's less than Paladin Steve's once-a-month Kingmaker campaign! We're supposed to be playing every other week but we're averaging every other month! We're a session or two away from finishing Book 3 which put us approximately halfway through the campaign. We started in September of 2013 and we've managed 37 total sessions in the 39 months since. Call it once a month. I like the campaign but I'm not sure I want to spend 3 more years trying to finish it.

This has me questioning if these long term epic campaigns are a thing we can really do. Some of it is the system as Pathfinder is not nearly as quick in play as Savage Worlds, Star Wars d6, or even M&M. I have 3 or 4 more of these things I'd like to run but at this pace I'm not sure I could live long enough to do them all! Maybe after we retire ...

I admit, the concept of "finishing" a campaign isn't one I've always been attached to. To me you make characters, start playing, and that's a campaign - not a specific plot but the players and the characters and the setting.

Regardless of my long term doubts I needed to take some immediate action as I'm not sacrificing more weekends to "somebody can't make it so we're going to have to cancel" as we have a hard enough time making room on the schedule in the first place. With multiple active teenagers in the house and full time jobs this is a thing we have to plan ahead most of the time. So for 2017 I am going with the plan I discussed earlier on the blog:

  • 1st weekend of the month: Superheroes, mainly Mutants and Masterminds
  • 3rd weekend of the month: Wrath of the Righteous
  • Otherwise: whatever we manage to fit in without interfering with other commitments
I'm also changing my "all of us or no game" policy I've been sticking to with the Pathfinder game. That's killed us, even with only 3 players. I'm willing to flip between Fridays and Saturdays when I can to accommodate schedules but I'm going to have to go with two available = game just to try and keep the thing moving.

Now other than this it was a pretty interesting year. I ran 5 sessions of a d6 Star Wars campaign that just kind of popped up. It's not on a regular schedule - the schedule is "whenever I have all 3 boys here and we have a couple of hours free". I also ran 2 sessions of FFG Star Wars. That means I ran more Star Wars than Pathfinder, more Star Wars than any other single game. I'm pretty sure that's the first time that universe has been at the top of that particular list for me, but I'm pretty happy with it. Combine that with persistent flare-ups of X-Wing, regular visits to The Old Republic, and here at the end of the year the acquisition of Armada and it was more the Year of Star Wars when it comes to my personal game time than anything else. The Apprentices are loving the d6 campaign, even with the irregular schedule so I expect it to continue through next year. I think the ongoing greatness of Rebels and the awesomeness of Rogue One helped show them that the Rebellion Era can be cool too. Of course Rebels also showed that there are more than 3 or 4 force users left in the universe and that didn't hurt either.

Other RPG's that I ran this year: Couple sessions of Marvel Heroic (a game we all still love), a few sessions of Deadlands (which I would like to run more), Mutants and Masterminds (getting into a regular groove perhaps), and ... Dungeon Crawl Classics! That one squeaked in Friday night with 4 players, a bunch of zero level characters and a roughly 40% casualty rate through about the first third of the adventure. We had a bunch of fun with it though picking names, arguing over miniatures, and "unlearning what we had learned" about combat from Pathfinder.

Miniatures: 40K, with visits to X-Wing, Kings of War, and Dropzone Commander, pretty much in that order. I picked up Armada this week so it's on deck for 2017.

Boardgames: I won't claim we have a regular rotation but if we did it would include King of Tokyo, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Munchkin (mainly Marvel this year), and Pandemic. Apprentice Blaster and I still work in Command and Colors Ancients when we can.  I did play my first game of Axis and Allies in at least 15 years this year. It's amazing how much comes rushing back after all that time. The boys liked it so maybe it will become a thing.

Games that fell off the radar this year:

  • Star Trek - I brought up the old game early on as an option then brought up the new playtest rules here towards the end of the year and ... no one was interested. It's not like that's a new thing but it means I'm not going to worry about it too much for now. I'll probably pick up the book whenever they publish it but that's more for me to read and think than any real hope of running it. Honestly with an active Star Wars game I'm not all that upset about it. Attack Wing is also pretty much dead here and no one her is playing Star Trek Online anymore either. Even Federation Commander is dormant for us for now.
  • 40K Roleplaying & Boardgames - we've had a few of the RPG books floating around the house but no one cares. Even some of the more ornate boardgames associated with it generate an "if we have time to do that we could just play real 40K instead" and I tend to agree. 
  • D&D 5th Edition - I'm still interested in giving it more of a chance but Pathfinder is the main fantasy RPG for us and with a friend running it and two boys running PF campaigns of their own  I just don't see that changing.
  • FATE - I like it in concept but I don't know that I will ever talk the group into running it. 

Enough about last year!

Goals for 2017

RPG Stuff:

  1. Recover the Pathfinder campaign enough to feel like it's a living thing again - or call it, kill it and move on. Nine sessions in 2015 followed by six in 2016 is not a trend I care to continue. One of my players has already told me he has a conflict with the third weekend in February so it's not looking all that promising on just day 1 of the year! Having what feels like a failing campaign is a drain on things so either outcome will improve our situation.
  2. Make a supers campaign a regular, ongoing thing. The first-weekend-of-the-month Freedom City game is it! I have interested players, a great system, and a plan - now we just need to execute! This one is looking pretty good. I hope next year's summary has a bunch to say about this, and maybe Atomic City and Emerald City as well. Our every-once-in-a-while Marvel Heroic and our equally intermittent ICONS campaign will be Plans B and C here. 
  3. Ride the Star Wars wave with one or more RPG campaigns. The current d6 campaign is for me and the boys but if the opportunity opens up to run something for my friends I will, either with that system or the FFG system. Everyone seems more interested in it now so I'm going to strike while the iron is hot.

Having regular, ongoing options with these 3 games makes me a pretty happy guy. Everything beyond this is a bonus.
  • Run some more DCC, at least finish the adventure we started. It doesn't have to be a regular, scheduled campaign. I'd just like to run a complete adventure as it was a ton of fun. 
  • Run some Runequest - all of this fun with other games like DCC has me optimistic.  
  • Run some more Savage Worlds: Rifts, Deadlands, Slipstream, 50 Fathoms, Hell on Earth, or another flavor of Star Wars. I like the system too much to let it lie for another year. 
  • Sneak in some Shadowrun. Maybe a one-off, but I want the kids to experience it and I suspect I could round up enough players to make it fun
  • Set up a Gamma World one-shot. It's too cool to ignore completely and it also helps set up a potential Mutant Crawl Classics experiment later in the year,
If I could pull off all of these over the next 12 months I'd be ecstatic. Most likely some of them will happen, some will not, and something completely unexpected will show up too - but this is the plan/priority/hope for now. I am having a lot of fun running my own material so I'm less interested in getting in to another giant campaign arc in a premade setting and more interested in doing our own thing.


  1. 40K: This is our standard and I do not expect that to change. We averaged about a battle a month this year but they tend to be clustered around time off with multiple fights over a week and then a month or two of nothing. I'd like to smooth that out. Right now the sub-goals are:
    • Play with those Eldar I painted up
    • Get the Blood Angels painted up and into  a field-able force
    • Get the Dark Angels painted up and field-ready as well
  2. Star Wars is a big player here too. We already like X-Wing and Xmas bumped up our selection of bigger ships like the Falcon, Slave 1, the YT-2400, and the Ghost. It will continue to be a thing here. Armada is new and I hope it turns into a big player, maybe even #2 behind 40K. Imperial Assault is the only option here that has really not impressed us - it takes too much effort to play when we could either play the RPG or go play 40K depending on what we're in the mood to do. 
  3. Fantasy now means Kings of War for us. We will probably get in a fantasy mood and play a few more games. I don't expect to be buying new armies for it but the ones we have should see some action this year. Maybe we'll even paint them.
  4. World War 2: Bolt Action - there's a new second edition of the rules and I am ready to go with a 28mm army option. It may be a few months before we get anywhere but we will probably play it more than we did in 2016. I'm really interested in some Pacific battles but that new starter set looks pretty nice. We may start there. Flames of War is just a non-starter for us, plus there's another new edition coming out which means "wait and see" at best. 
  5. Dropzone Commander - I got one starter set and built some of it but we never played a real game of it. I'd like to do that. it doesn't have to replace 40K or the Star Wars games, I'd just like to play something more like the old Epic scale games.  
Mantic is constantly bringing out new games and GW is bringing back some old favorites but I just don't have the bandwidth to research them, buy them, build them, paint them, and play them. The door's not completely shut but something new is going to have to really bowl me over to get any real attention at all.

All that said I had a pretty good 2016 and I am looking forward to a 2017 that is at least as good.


Adam Dickstein said...

First...Wow. That's a lot of gaming. I should know, I game a lot. That said, yeah, wow, a lot of gaming.

I am really pleased to see so much Supers, and Star Wars going on in your neck of the woods. Even more excited to hear it's being so positively received by both you, and your players.

I feel like the resurgence of Star Wars on film (The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and even Rebels) has given Star Wars gaming a much needed shot in the arm.

Second, Happy New Year my friend! Looking forward to another year of reading what's on your mind.

Blacksteel said...

Happy new year to you too BA! It does look like a lot when I spell it all out but it doesn't really feel as busy as when I was in my teens or twenties. We had a lot of variety so that feels pretty good. The new year is off to a good start too as I just ran my second session of the M&M campaign today.

The Star Wars thing ... I completely agree. The ongoing shows and movies really help by being good and being regular. The spillover into our game time has been unexpected but I welcome it and I really hope it continues.