Tag Archives: Penny Arcade Expo

The 5th Edition

The latest version of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), currently known has D&D Next, is Wizards of the Coast’s (WotC) latest attempt to reboot the worlds most popular tabletop role playing game. The game is currently in beta stages and WotC is receiving feedback from fans who have been testing out the new rules. WotC is trying to bat a home run with this game by trying to win back fans after the D&D 4th edition failure, while at the same time converting older fans who have been perfectly content playing older editions of the game.

D&D

While I was at PAX this year, I had a chance to play a demo of Dungeons & Dragons Next with an official representative of Wizards of the Coast. You can see a video of the game I was playing here. I really had an enjoyable time playing the game and after it was over, I was able to talk to our Dungeon Master and ask several questions about the new edition and how it was progressing. Unfortunately, I left the gaming table somewhat disappointed with the state of Dungeons & Dragons Next and I don’t expect the things I would need to buy the game to be addressed by it’s release sometime in 2014.

In a nutshell D&D Next is still too complex for my tastes. Please don’t get me wrong, I do think that the 5th edition of this game is a lot better than 4th edition. I figured that out just by looking at my character sheet. Gone are skill checks from your character sheet. Now if you want to do something outside the box that would be considered a skill you just use your Ability Score Modifiers and add them to your D20 roll to see if you accomplish your goal. This is a nice example of how the game has been cleaned up and streamlined. But the sad fact is that you are still doing a ton of math, adding all your extra points of damage from weapons or abilities, rolling extra dice for advantage and so on. I found this to not only be confusing, but also detracting and slowing down the story being played out in front of me.

I do understand and respect that there are gamers out in the world that enjoy the mathematical crunch of a good game mechanic. I am just not one one of those gamers. When I first looked at my printed off character sheet for a level one Cleric for 5th edition, I let out a sigh of disappointment. Already I knew that if I had to write out this character by hand that there was no way I could fit all the information I needed on the front and back of one character sheet. Which to me is very disappointing. To me when I think of a tabletop role playing game, I think pencil and paper. I feel like I should be able to write down everything I need with a pencil and one sheet of paper. I shouldn’t need to print off the character sheet from my computer or need several index cards to write down all the extra information my character has. That’s just not fun for me.

When D&D Next was first announced, I was feeling very optimistic about it. I recall early talks of this 5th edition by WotC being modular. Think three ring binder of sorts that would contain the rules for how to play D&D in its most basic form. Rules light if you will. Then, as you wanted to add eliminates from 2nd, 3rd, or 4th editions of the game, along with extra character options you could just by adding on packs or sheets and inserting them into your binder. D&D Next. The edition for everyone. I thought this was was a great idea and something I could see myself buying. But shortly after the first beta of the game was released for public testing, I knew that this great idea was no longer going to be an option for fans.

The truth of the matter is, I cut my teeth on D&D. I love the name of the game and I want to support it. But the reality is I have found that I enjoy gaming with a modern clone of the original D&D game called Swords & Wizardry. I would rather play a game called Dungeons & Dragons. I want to come back home to my roots and play and support the game that has been around since before I was born. I just don’t see that happening with D&D Next. But like any fan of the hobby, I will continue to hold out hope until the official rule books are released and and I can see for myself what WotC is asking me to buy.

PAX Prime 2010 – Day 3

Waking up on the last day of PAX was slow and painful for not only myself, but for Hannah as well. I pulled myself out of bed and lazily stood up. That’s when I realized it was the damn hotel bed that had been sucking the life out of me each morning. The bed was to soft that you just melted into it. When you tried to get up in the morning it was like trying to pull yourself out of a quick sand pit. We took a shower and tried to wash away the groggy and stiffness we felt.

Today Hannah, Lyle and myself planned to meet up and spend most of the day in the Expo Hall checking out all the games we didn’t have a chance to check out before. The highlight for me was playing the new Mortal Kombat. Granted, I did not get a chance to see every game in the hall or play every game in the hall but out of the ones I did, Mortal Kombat stuck out as a favorite for me. This game feels more like MK 1 and MK 2 in it’s play and brutality. I understand it is also going to have a mature rating which will make fans of the game think that the game developers are finally starting to listen after 10 years.

Another game I was excited to see was Portal 2. The game was closed off behind walls and the only way to play it was to wait in an hour and a half. So though I did not get to play it I was excited to see that the game had a presence their.

I was so excited to try the demo for Duke Nukem forever. I quickly learned however, that the line for the demo was 2 hours long. I had waited in lines the last two days and I was done with it. So I did not wait to play the Duke Nukem Demo. I texted my friend Alex about this when I learned how long the line was.

Youseph: The line for Duke Nukem is 2 hours long.

Alex: It could be argued that, that line is 15 years long 😉

Youseph: Haha, to true!

Hannah found ‘Kirby’s Epic Yarn’ and played the demo for a while. Lyle enjoyed several Lord of the Rings game demos going on and all of us played a hand full of indie games. Hannah really enjoyed one that will be coming out soon called Swarm.

Not to think we where all about computer and console games on our last day at PAX we spent some time at the Chessex booth buying dice (where the frack where you GAME SCIENCE!) and visiting the hand full of venders that had RPG merchandise to offer.

We ended the day and PAX by attending Omegathon at Benaroya Hall. Omegathong is a weekend long tournament of randomly selected attendees competing for a grand prize. The final round makes up the show’s closing ceremony, past games for the final round have included Tetris, Pong, Halo 3, and Skee ball. This years final round was the OmegaClaw. You should have heard the audience explode when this thing was reveled on stage. At the end of the Omegathon the three of us had dinner one last time. We said our guy byes to Lyle suggested we do this again next year.

PAX Prime 2010 – Day 2

Waking up and pulling myself out of bed I was feeling like I had been at PAX a week already. I could not figure out why I was feeling like this. Maybe it was all the walking around and standing in lines the day before. Maybe eating out so much was catching up to me. Regardless Hannah was smiling and ready to start her day and I was hardly going to disappoint.

Hannah and I grabbed a quick bite to eat as we made our way back to Benaroya Hall to attend the “Penny Arcade Make a Strip” panel. Lyle joined us in line shortly after we arrived. When the doors to Benaroya Hall finally opened that morning everyone in line poured into the great hall and made their way to the seating area. Once everyone was seated The song “Hustling” by Rick Ross started blasting from speakers all around us as Gabe and Tycho entered the stage to a roaring applause. The two proceeded to create a comic strip for their website right before us all while they worked they also took questions from the audience. It was really funny and very entertaining and something we will do again for sure if we are lucky enough to attend PAX Prime in 2011.

In line with Hannah and Lyle

After the “Make a Strip” panel finished we headed over to the Sheraton and got inline for “Acquisitions Incorporated: D&D Live”. This was a longer wait for us but the PAX Enforces did a decent job keeping everyone in line entertained as we waited to take our seats. Everyone in line seemed really nice. People in line where again either talking, Playing on their Nintendo DS’s or playing Zombie Dice. The three of us grabbed some carpet and talked about life, the universe and everything.

The doors eventually did open and we made our way inside and found good seating up close to the action. A large projector screen was center stage so even the people in the back of the room would be able to see the Dungeons & Dragons action going on. Chris Perkins from Wizards of the Coast and the DM of this game was already on stage making the final adjustments to his to props and miniatures.

Eventually everyone did get seated and cameras that would be projecting on to the screen in front of us where correctly setup. Then the players were introduced to great applause. Scott Kurtz as Binwin Bronzebottom, Wil Wheaton as Aeofel (Al), Gabe as Jim DarkMagic of the New Hampshire Darkmagics, and Tycho Omin Dran CEO of Acquisitions Incorporated. The object of this Acquisitions Incorporated Dungeons & Dragons game was to bring Wil Wheaton’s Character Aeofel, back from the dead if possible. It was an awesome game and I laughed pretty hard throughout the whole thing. I am sure that Wizards of the Coast will eventually post an official video/podcast of the game. When they do I will update this post with the link.

After the good time we had at the Acquisitions Incorporated game we all got right back in line for Wil Wheaton’s Awesome Hour that was also taking place in the Sheraton. Wil talk a bit about his life and then left the rest of the hour open to a Q and A session.

Day 2 at PAX was pretty much lines and panels. After Wil Wheaton’s talk the three of us got dinner. Again Lyle headed back home and Hannah and myself proceeded to walk around the open game rooms and look over the shoulders of other gamers till we where ready to head back to the hotel.