Dungeons & Dragons : Shadows Over Mystarra – Coop Arcade fun for 4 (Xbox, PC)

I can recall first the first time I watched the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon in the early 90’s and loved the idea of heroes adventuring in a fantasy world. Not comprehending the complexities of tabletop RPGs I just loved the stories and that was enough. Then I remember going to the arcades with my brother and we loved playing coop games like Metal Slug and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which even allowed for up to 4 players. I would read about Dungeons & Dragons Tower of Doom that was released in 1993/94 for the legendary CPS-2 machine by Capcom, a developer and publisher all kids we all too familiar with. Tower of Doom would not be the first D&D game released by Capcom with TSR after signing their deal in 1990 which resulted shortly after in the porting of Eye of the Beholder to the SNES.

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The artwork in the magazine was evocative and the cover featured the standard party with the Dwarf, Cleric, Warrior and Elf. At the time races were classes as they were using the AD&D Rules Cyclopedia rules when designing the game which also made it unlike any other side scrolling beat em up game. Not only had they gotten the rights from TSR for the system but they also were using a popular setting from the AD&D books. At the time fans of D&D had gold box computer games and other iterations of their favorite tabletop game ported to the PC but nothing that looked as good as what Capcom released and no game allowed for up to 4 players couch coop! The game would eventually see it packed with the sequel Shadows of Mystarra (Dungeons & Dragons Collection 1999) for the failed Sega Saturn console but only Japan with the removal of 4 player capabilities.

tower of doom opening screen

The things that made this a different gaming experience for arcade goers was that it allowed players to do more than just simple attacks, infact Capcom wanted to remain true to the abilities existing fans of the tabeltop game loved so much.  Capcom would enlist the talents of video game and anime concept illustrator Kinu Nishimura (Street Fighter games and Capcom Vs SNK) while leaving the writing duties to Alex Jiminez who did great in translating the feel and narrative of Dungeons & Dragons to a more mainstream audience. Players would be able to select abilities and feats while picking up items and loot which was stowed in their inventory. Prior to this inventory functionality and the differentiation of what each character to do made this a gamechanger in the early 90’s, the last era of arcades still being relavent in gaming culture globally.

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The game had miles of depth on the competition at the time, it was hard to complete and it played different depending on the choices the players made in game. A store and and the addition of a block function helped players survive a few more kobolds. D&D fans coming to arcade would be pscyhed when they saw the inclusion of their favorite spells including, magic missile, fireball, cloudkill and invisibility along with the same limitations from the book meant their exzisting knowledge would allow for them to get the game from the first quarter. Levelling up and loss of gold and points when dying made it a game where you had to think more than your would for other beat em ups like Fatal Fury or the Simpsons. The replayability of Tower of Doom and its difficulty had us dumping money into the cabinets and for those who got to see the ending at the 7th level we were amped after seeing the cliffhanger ending which hinted at a sequel.

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Shadows over Mystarra would be the second Dungeons & Dragons game released for arcades in 1996, adding more to the game and expanding the choices for playable classes. The thief and magic user class were added to the joy of many D&D players. Each class had alternate costumes so two players could play as the same class if they wanted to and believe me have two casters is nothing to sneeze at in this game. Capcom also jammed in more combos for the fighting classes and threw in more spells along with diverging paths for specific classes and alternate endings added more replayability to that game that already did it right the first time around.  By far the 4 possible endings for each class is something I think no game has done since.

 

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Now that we have laid on the praise real thick with our nostalgia goggles on it is time to get into what we don’t like about the games. Seeing as the games were originally designed for the arcades it was common practise for developers for have money grab levels and cheap bosses who were so hard that you would HAVE to have a fair amount of coinage to survive. Pay to pay at it’s finest but this is truly visible when fighting the Red Dragon in the first game where you do not even see his health bar after a barrage of hits connect and his insta-death fire breath killed many one second into the encounter. Also, there were glitches in the sequeal where you could cheat through entering certain words when given the choice of naming your character along with a few other glitches which could give you powerful items helped some cheaters get their names on the highscore charts. Other than that my gripe is more with Capcom than it is with TSR which was going through hell in the 90s.

Imagine if Capcom did not sacrifice the 4 player option for the Saturn, better yet try picture them releasing these game on the Sony Playstation as a bundle in 1996? I could not find any explaination as to why Capcom would not pursue it further, one of the reasons could be that D&D did not catch on as fast or grow as much as it did in the west. Alex Jiminez who wrote the scenario for Capcom said the Japanese staff were not understanding the concept or much of the mechanics behind D&D. The heads in Tokyo even were debating whether the game should have a Western or Eastern theme prior to Alex’s arrival.

Let us recall that RPG fans in the early 90s had slim pickings for games especially when discussing consoles with Diablo 1 coming to the Playstation in 1998 with only a two player option, beating Capcom by a year for their collection which was exclusive to Japan. Baldurs Gate would not hit PCs until 1998 meaning Capcom had more than enough time to capitalize on a severely under served genre with most of the titles remaining exclusive to PC platforms. Waiting as long as 2013 to repackage and release the collection globally on most platforms seemed like a long wait and I’m pretty sure if they had ported it to the Playstation, PS2, Dreamcast, or Xbox they could have gotten some more sales and perhaps rekindled the interest of Wizards of the Coast in a time where consoles were not even a thought for developers. Proof of this is that we had to wait until 2001 before console gamers would recieve the critically acclaimed ‘Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance’.

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REMINDER: The titles listed were gamechangers and all came towards the end of the 90s, not to say there were not games on the PC and Playstation that did not have Dungeons & Dragons licensing but these products fell short of the mark when it came to graphics, replayability and never made the arcade. With the exception of Eye of the Beholder which was well reviewed no D&D computer game would make a splash prior to Baldurs Gate in 1998.

Hoping you enjoyed reading this post and we cannot recommend this enough if you have 15$ lying around give the game a shot as it is packed with nostalgia while also providing hour of fun in a familiar setting.  I give this collection 9 out of 10. 

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Dungeons & Dragons – Shadowplague (Comic Book Review) IDW

IDW pairing with TV writer John Rogers and what we thought of it. At a time when D&D was loosing fans because of 4th Edition did they get this right?

It is no mystery that most of us at Nerd Dimension are RPG Players who have played or still continue to play Dungeons & Dragons. It is synonymous with nerds, adventure and chances are that most of the people you know have heard about it or know something about it.  In the dark era in which Wizards of the Coast got greedy and foolish by releasing what is still dubbed the worst version Dungeons & Dragons. In this time IDW had the license agreement with WOTC to publish D&D comics. IDW had already obtained licenses were already coming off successes with popular TV franchises which they turned into comics with 24, CSI and Star Trek. The publisher also would give readers also print comics for popular gaming titles (Silent, Castlevania and Metal Gear Solid) and IDW continue to cater to their readers so D&D would make perfect sense.

I had already read two volumes of classic D&D comics (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) published by the giant DC comics and was curious to see how the newer material would read. Having also real several novels including The Crystal Shard & Homeland I went in knowing a lot about D&D and the lore.

The duo that put together Shadowplague were screenwriter John Rogers (The Core and Leverage) and seasoned artist Andrea Di Vito ( Marvel’s Annihilation), peaking my interest as I had not heard of Rogers prior to this book and actually thought it could be a idea getting someone from TV for the writing. Later I would see he worked on Catwoman.I feel I need not add insult to injury but this guy did go on to do bigger and better things. John Rogers would write for the Young Justice, Librarians and the Teen Titans all shows which I enjoyed so he was up two in my grade book.

shadowplague

I loved the art on the cover, the characters well drawn and it looked a lot fresher than the older issues I had read before. A big step up but then again I was reading content from the late 80’s & early 90’s.  The writing in Shadowplague is not the best but it is well written with the average reader in mind. I could see how the writers work in television helped him in making the story a little more engaging to those who would come in as novices. Not too many people will understand the difference between a spell and a cantrip and like most of us in high school we hated reading old English. The writer here managed to meet you halfway so that the dialogue feels modern but not too modern that it works against the feel of the setting. I like the coloring and the shading in the panels, especially how some of the characters get those extra details in the right places. I do however miss the rugged look of the older comics but the visually the comic is up to standards and I cannot complain nor praise it.

The plot is not the most original but then again what do you expect buying a Dungeons & Dragons comic? I did like that this was not a comic version of other stories but more a continued comic book series. The characters and story did not have to measure up against previous bestsellers and both the artist and the writer could add more of themselves to the creation of the book. The story revolves around a party that have just joined forces out of common interests and we read the unfolding of the stories. Some have intriguing conflicts that push them further forward whereas others are more stereotypical in a fantasy sense, meaning the elf and dwarf are not that keen on each others company. Through the story it does feel like D&D in the sense that the characters classes do get to play to their strengths in the story and the story, though dry does get you the last page.

I still prefer the older version of the comics but that is my opinion. I feel they were more original with some of the storytelling and think that Shadowplague is a light entry. I saw that quite a few people gave this book a favorable review but I will have to be the outlier…again. The writing and page count left me with things to desire, more chapters and a better conclusion for the price I paid. The book I bought online through amazon did not last two readings before falling out from the spine. I feel they could have been a little more creative with the characters and perhaps added more so that I would feel tempted to fork over more money for the next book. The way things stand now I will not be purchasing the remaining books as I have got into their more recent D&D Publications which you can bet we will talk and write about in posts to come.

Rating: 6 out of 10

 

In closing, if you can source this book or the whole run for cheap then by all  means pull out the plastic and make your bid. I could recommend this comic to someone thinking of getting into D&D and it is a good, light introduction without being too heavy. I talked with some younger readers who said it was fun to see the different races and got curious about the tabletop and video games after reading so in that sense the book does serve a purpose.  For more information on the pair behind the book they did an interview with Newsrama in 2010 we invite you to read.

Thank you for reading, please leave a comment even if it is to contradict my opinion, rate even if it is 3 out of 5  and most importantly subscribe/follow our pages on FACEBOOK + MIXCLOUD as to stay up to date on content and contests. We are always interested in your feedback and welcome your submissions and entries. To hear more on the book the in audio format visit The Nerd Dimension episode in the link.

 

Fighting with little plastic men. The story of Warhammer:Fantasy Battles

New contributor and fellow Nerd Big K aka Kruno drops an article about the best table top fantasy war game of all time. Read more to find out more about this forgotten classic.

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It was the year 1998, the author of this text was in his late teens and admittedly a bigger geek then I am now if that is even humanly possible.

My friends and I had been playing D&D from the very beginnings and as a group we have been hardcore gamers, but D&D to us was a system that was just missing something, we could not quite put our finger on it, but as we understand it now we were missing gritty reality and logic.

While playing D&D at later levels, talking 12th and up, any character could basically walk into a village, kill every single person there and leave without so much as scratch on them! So things like that happened a few times in our playgroup before we disbanded until we could find a punishing enough system that would prevent stuff like that from even the most advanced level players.

We explored and read a lot and my friend and I found an article on (god damn I feel so old for remembering) Alta Vista(for those of you who don’t know what it is, its basically something like Google but way more primitive) about Warhammer: Fantasy Battles. It was a game of heroes and armies clashing on the field of battle, where 2+ players each commanded their own little or big army as we would later discover and beat each other senseless for bragging rights and a pint of beer, or if you played seriously on the tournament scene you could win some nice expensive Warhammer figurines and accessories like paint stations and professional style airbrushes.

In August 1998 the very first box of Warhammer: Fantasy Battles 5th edition arrived in Split, Croatia and my entire crew gathered to see what was in the beautifully painted box which sported a knight in full plate armor on a warhorse charging some sort of lizard like creature.

The suspense was crazy and we were all giggling like schoolgirls, and then we opened the box, it was full of unpainted and un-assembled models of knights, archers, lizardfolk, and sported 2 phenomenal looking heroes/champions for each army.

It also contained a phenomenal rule-book with loads of rules for almost any situation that could occur during the game itself and incredible Gothic looking artwork which we all fell in love with at first sight.

While some people felt underwhelmed and a bit disappointed, most of us including me saw huge potential in Warhammer. I saw endless possibilities for customization and making your own unique army and heroes, which could possibly be used in other gaming systems not just in Warhammer.

Now that we had the actual game it was but the the beginning of the love that would mark the next 20 or so years of my life.

We would all now have to chose an army to represent us best on the battlefield, it would define the way you build your army,  the way you play and what were the strengths and weaknesses of your particular army.

As a group we all picked what we felt most comfortable with.

The Vampire Counts with their incredible necromantic magic that could make entire units of skeletons appear on the battlefield.

The High Elves with their fast moving infantry and cavalry paired with their Mages that could wreak havoc on enemies.

The Empire ,a human faction with  heavily armored knights and heavy artillery like cannons and mortars to back them up and mostly used infantry as cannon fodder and something to be sacrificed to achieve victory at any cost.

The Dark Elves and their specialist units which were lightning quick while their heroes were ferocious in up close melee combat.

The Wood Elves as absolute kings of shooting with their longbows which had extra range and extra power, and the best scout units in the game.

 The Brettonians as a human faction which could be best described as feudal french knights mixed with crusaders and peasants as backup units which provided numbers while their fantastic cavalry did heavy hitting.

The Skaven a race of mutant ratfolk which use unstable magics and fight in huge numbers while supported with a form of close combat magics and semi/mechanical shooting which were hugely unreliable but when they did work  it proved absolutely devastating for the enemy.

The Warriors of Chaos a semi human demon faction wielding insanely powerful magic, which were the ultimate bad guys in the Warhammer world.

The Dwarfs a  reliable army of heavy armored infantry that could withstand almost any charge and strike back with good measure, backed up with some of the most devastating shooting units in the game and very decent protective magic.

And the last but certainly not least, my own favorite faction

The Orcs and Goblins   purely for practical reasons cause nobody else wanted them, I took them as my favorite and never regretted it for a millisecond.

It was an army of monsters, giants, trolls, goblins and orcs which lived in a mostly nomadic tribes and while they had huge numbers they were primitive and their magic was unreliable. When it did hit  it was absolutely devastating and while orcs were huge lumbering brutes that relied on pure strength, goblins were sneaky and devious so with those 2 combined were for me a match made in heaven.

 

And so we all began collecting and painting our armies, gathering for gaming and painting sessions that would last for entire weekends, I personally remember a couple where my folks asked me „Have you guys eaten anything in the last 2 days?“ we would paint and play for hours, the game was to us so immersive and so gritty and real that we had people including me (actually, especially me) have nerd rages for rolling bad and having our heroes killed by sheer bad luck. To most of us it was the best representation of tabletop conflict we have ever seen, and we loved every second of it, because even if you lost, there was a sense of dramatic achievements when you told how your mage wiped out an entire enemy unit when his spell failed (yes it was actually quite possible for a spell to fail and do devastating damage to both friends and foes alike).

We loved the unforgiving nature of the game which made you think of it like chess but with six sided dice included, mistakes on the battlefield were severely punished and your units could quite easily be wiped out by much inferior opponents just because you left your flank or rear open and vulnerable to attack. It was unlike anything we ever played before, in D&D you could resurrect your fallen comrade, in Warhmmer if a Lord/Hero/Mage died it was a huge deal and most armies suffered greatly with a loss of such a huge point investment and lack of leadership.

Warhammer as a game itself has many extensive rules, most of which I will not mention in this text, cause I’m writing an article not a 450 page book, but I do need to mention the game has complex character stats and quite a few of them for each model/character and the better your stats the more points the model costs and each game is played with an agreed number of points, for tournaments it was considered that 2000 point games were most balanced but most playgroups played anything from 500 point skirmishes to 5000 grand battles.

The game itself developed and my group played all editions of the game, however instead of making progress, it is my firm opinion that the game was at its peak during 6th edition which was the most balanced and started deteriorating from there, instead of fixing the minor issues of the game Games Workshop made 7th edition which was somewhat an improved version of the 7th but it reduced and gimped a lot of armies because it reduced the number of race specific magical items doing away with the uniqueness of armies,instead of listening to their player base Games Workshop messed up big time, we thought OK, we can adapt its not 6th but its still playable.

After 7th edition was released followed by the semi disastrous and final installment of Warhammer: Fantasy Battles the 8th edition, while it added some great stuff, like advantage for fighting in large units the so called horde units, it absolutely killed cavalry and mobility and made all armies a copy paste of each other which huge infantry units charging frontally into each other. It seemed to us older players that the game was so stupidly simplified that even preschool children could play it, and we were pretty pissed off.  The number of race specific magical items was almost nonexistent, everything was  incredibly streamlined and we were all disappointed and incredibly angry to the point that some people actually quit playing all together after reading the rulebook.

It was a sad time, we were friends who shared an interest but this tore our group apart, nobody wanted to play with these stupidly simplified rule set, we felt like the huge effort and not to mention a really large money investment was taken from us because developers were morons who did not listen to their player base! Games Workshop wanted to make more money but they failed to realize that you can’t make such drastic changes without alienating and antagonizing longtime customers and supporters of you previous iterations.

It felt like they cheated us old players in favor of new kids and we were pissed off, I believe we had every right to be.

Warhammer: Fantasy Battles no longer exists as a game system, it is replaced by a stupidly simplified game called Age of Sigmar, which while undoubtedly fun to play has no where near the complexity of the game I loved to play which has reduced the number off stats and characters become 1 man armies that decide combat results, while in previous editions it was all about the positioning of your units making the right charge at the right time. Now it is all about who has a bigger sword on a bigger lord class character which is too simple, non complex and for this reason is NOT in the true spirit of Warhammer!!!

It makes me sad and happy at the same time that a group of enthusiasts made an unofficial Warhammer game called the 9th Age but, its not officially endorsed by Games Workshop unfortunately.

This was my experience with Warhammer: Fantasy Battles a game that has given me great joy and a lot of fun memories. It made me a lot of friends and it saddens me that it no longer exists as something I loved to play but as something completely different, that greed and corporate money grabbing destroyed what was once of the greatest tabletop war game of all time.

 

I hope you enjoyed my debut article for Nerd Dimension and look forward to reading you feedback in the comments. Remember to rate, comment and subscribe to our Facebook page and Podcast to stay in the loop as we upload new content.

Nerd Dimension TOS Ep 2 with guest David

They return !

The nerds return with another throwback installment in which we tackle many issues and of course go overboard with our sound effects and trolling. Apart from giving listeners our opinions on the listed below we through in our specific brand of humor as to offend only the most sensitive of listeners. We try to not make time sensitive content so that you will never feel like you are keeping up with a trend or listening to another pod-casting reviewing the newest products. By not having sponsors we have the liberty of talking about what we want, the way we want and pick and chose topics we feel may not have been discussed enough or from our position. In between day jobs, shows and other day to day BS we have to deal with we gotta vent somewhere about the shit we love so enjoy as we talk about:

– D&D Shadow Plague (Comic Review)
– Fairy Tale Fights Review (Xbox 360)
– Shadows  Over Camelot (Board Game Review)
– Book Recommendations
–  Apollo still hating on flat chested actresses portraying Wonder Woman !

And of course over the top sound effects !!!

 

 

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International TableTop Day 2015, held on 11. 04. 2015. @ FESB powered by : Carta Magica Split & Stari Svijet

That Saturday it was a sunny day in Split, the sun was shinning and a cool breeze was blowing. Almost too hot for the hoodies and jackets many of the students from FESB ( University of Split Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture … the translation is brutal). This writer was on route to the college to DM a session at the first ever International Table Top Day event to be held in Split. It was the brain child of the gracious owners of Carta Magica and the members of Stari Svijet who decided to throw an open door event to promote the culture of gaming.

I was approached and volunteered to do be a Dunegeon Master and even considered bringing my guilds set of Summoner Wars and maybe school some noobs in between D&D sessions. Or so I thought. Fast forward to your beloved blogger speeding towards the venue with half his notes missing as well as his second fix of caffeine. Upon arrival I was welcomed by the part I was to DM for that faithful morning but first shook hands with my inside guys : Marko Mlinar and Kruno Lapenda (two of the three Owners of Carta Magica Split).

Preparations were still underway as the final waves of promotion went down. I laid down my materials and ran across to the Carta Magica store to print some character sheets and buy some cigarettes where I bumped into a few guys who looked like they would be interested in throwing some dice and squashing some minions. Returning to the venue I saw that we had table 1 next to the blackboard and my party awaited :

encounterJerko Sanja Kruno Ivan

ROLE CALL :

Sanja M. aka Scarlet > a fiery dragonborn sorcerer in pursuit of knowledge and magical artifacts. Not too bad to look at neither.

Boris M. aka Skaras > A water Genassi cleric whose neutrality would make the Swiss look like bullies. Not for nothing but it was not the water that made this Cleric slippery.

Nikola aka Rockslide: Sadly Nikola had to jump ship half way through the questing and was picked up by Ljubo Simic temporarily. Sadly no one has seen or heard from Rockslide since…dare we call it a conspiracy?

Marin M. aka Heldeggar: Interesting rogue, always bouncing around but despite his size asked the big questions.

Josip B. aka Arthos: A curious caster who found himself in a bit of a pinch with some Planar chick but how can you blame him, those eyes are hypnotic !

Jerko HP. aka Bruce Banner: Bruce is truly smarter than you average barbarian, no seriously he is 😀

Ivan P. aka Scottish Legolas : In between drinking and hitting on some of the shadiest women in Ashroft he is … stabbing himself with his arrows or contracting parasites.

game Runebound

Considering I myself was new to D&D 5.0 there was no shortage of laughs, puzzle solving and ofcourse a dungeon was entered and a fight broke out in the tavern. All in all dice were rolled, role play points were awarded and most of all fun was had. In the down time other games could have been played ranging from Warhammer 40 K, Arkham Horror, Runebound 2nd Edition, Race for the Galaxy, Game of Thrones, World of Warcraft, the epic Twilight Imperium to name a few. No gamer walked away without getting their fix of their favorite table top games or trying something new out. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers for getting us the big hall and providing us with food and beverages. For the first time ever in Split gamers had a space they could call home and the place and the gaming ran well into 21:00 before an after party was announced for the brave few.

I was sad to see all the games boxed up but in my eyes and those I played with it was a success and they can count on our support any time. I would recommend that anyone visiting ST and looking to kill some time to pencil in a game, or if someone from ST is looking to dive into the magical world of board games and RPGs to also swing by, the people at Carta Magica are very forthcoming with information and even offer a 5% discount on cash purchases for members of their club. Below I have attached the links where you can check for time slots, browse the pictures and like their group.

Word is a con is coming to Split in the very near future and we are expecting more people to show up and support. I encourage those visiting Split, studying in split or just living in Split to check out the store because you never know when you can meet your next board game buddy or just start a new friendship.

Please be sure to like, subscribe and follow our page on Social Media through our NERD DIMENSION FACEBOOK PAGE and let us know what you wanna read about next!

Carta Magica in Split !!! The place to be for gamers and fans of all ages !!!!!!!!!!!

I am proud to do my first write up on a store and local spot and it just so happens to be the FIRST EVER gaming store in Split, yes ladies and gentlemen fear no more. All the years of ordering online or relying on friends to bring it back are over. The store is located in kaleta 3 at Split 3 (across from the T Mobile Center on that level) which is walking distance from both the high schools and colleges in the area meaning you ain’t loosing much time travelling before and after you academics. It is partnership/family owned and the vibe is much the same, greeted with smiles at the door and all 4 staff members, the three owners and an intern in the form of a toddler are well informed on the culture and numerous games.  I have met some pretty awesome people at the store in just a few visits. To make this place a true lair for the gamer in Split is the fact that they allow you to book tables for FREE and play board games, you can even bring one from home. Apart from the solid offering of board games and RPGs you also have themed t shirts, model paints and gear, card games and an entire shelf of both paperback and hardbacks displaying Dungeons & Dragons to Warcraft. I will list the links bellow, they have been a treat to meet and I am starting a weekly Summoner Wars tournament. This family are true fans and members of the culture and go out of their way to spread the joy and I believe that all fantasy, sci-fi and gamers should at least pay them a visit and feel that energy that has me coming back. What else can you ask for, a PG environment with decent hours where you can play for free. So if you are looking for a game in a place where like minded people gather this is your spot and when the store closes you have enough

https://www.facebook.com/CartaMagicaSplit

The Quest Begins 1/22/2015

In 2012 a group of friends from different parts of Split began a guild, mostly an excuse to play classic RPGs on classic gaming consoles between their basketball games. The winters in Split can be harsh and an indoor hobby could be fun to escape the elements. There was no specific game nor did it really qualify as a guild and was more of a gang of grown up Goonies looking for something to do.  As time passed and the weather got colder, the winds stronger they found themselves playing less basketball outside and more time indoors. Finding a place to hang out was a challenge and several nights were spent, just them huddled somewhere sheltered from the rain sharing a few words or a drink in a whole in the wall bar.

It was not until Vedran, the ‘master narrator’ returned from his studies in Dubrovnik that Dungeons and Dragons was formally introduced to the guild. Up until that point all the majority knew about the game was from an episode of Dexter’s Lab and Community but knew it sounded like fun, despite the nerdy connotations. The guild mostly consisting of comic book men, fan boys, former PC gamers, has been athletes and the sort welcomed it with open arms. Everyone had heard of Dungeons & Dragons but nobody had really knew much of how it was played other than dice and some basics of fantasy. One must consider that in the city of Split there was but one establishment for fantasy fans and it was the Land of Magic for the longest time.

A hobby shop franchise with a small store in the Center of town with a gaming room in the back. It was finally a vestige of hope but sadly social media was not really a thing back then and the city did not yet have the demand for such a store. So unfortunately they would close their doors and leave the citizens of Split without any substitute leading to the biggest problem facing potential gamers and fans. Where could they learn and meet people who can bring them into that world, introduce them to other players. Apart from what they can access online it is difficult for people to get into something like D&D in a city like Split.

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The biggest challenges are as followed:

  • No places where such games, manuals and materials can be purchased through traditional retail channels. Meaning those interested in playing cannot familiarize themselves or ask questions to someone in person and blog posts will never replace the store experience and assistance.
  • Apart from two Croatian portals (and now the Nerd Dimension); games, reviews and the bulk of the material available are in English so a language barrier does exist as there was no Croatian print version. Good thing most of us were proficient in English!
  • The price. The average modern fantasy board game will run you about 300 to 400 Kunas excluding shipping and even more for miniature based games.
  • The limited amount of games and waiting period for getting them delivered. Croatia still does not have the option of delivery through some of the bigger sites and customs for most games produced in the USA make them too expensive for your average consumer who are lucky if they earn 500$ a month.
  • Lastly it is hard to get a game going when most of the gaming demographic live with their parents in close quarters (not by choice in most cases) so places to play and getting a steady game becomes a feat in itself for many. This also seems to be a problem in other European cities as well as many young adults are forced into tight living arrangements.
  • Lack of knowledge and the public stigma towards board games is that of classic European Style games such as Monopoly and Risk which are staggeringly basic and I dare say boring when compared to the newer modern games that are now in print. Due to the fact that few people are being introduced to these games and the limited understanding and comprehension of the fantasy genre they believe it to be childish, boring or simply a waste of time. Do not get me started on tabletop RPGS !

It was tough staying motivated and getting new people to play so the few members would pool their resources and come together in dimly lit dungeon settings and share in adventuring and begin filling the passages of their quest. All of the group were excited to finally play something they had heard about for so long.

After playing the simplified board game version Vedran had in his stash, with him Dungeon Mastering the group grew to understand the basic concepts and would pursue playing the original RPG. For most of the players it was their first time experiencing something similar and thought the game Vedran was running was grossly simplified compared to the original source material. The evening proved to be fun and did spark the party’s interest in the hobby further. In the first campaign the role-play would immerse them and they would start researching the subject, reading up on classes, races and characters. Vedran would become the hub of their party for all things fantasy and board game related and a go to person for questions concerning said subjects.

Not long afterwards, the unthinkable happened. The first and only DM of the guild had to journey westwards to continue his studies, effectively leaving the party masterless and without his knowledge. After months of meetings and failed attempts at finding a suitable replacement the group had almost but given up hope. Until…

The noble gamer and fellow comic book man Stipe arrived and once again reunited the fellowship around the table once more. It took time before they could get a regular party going but not too long. Soon the guild were testing their mettle and spell casting their way through his obstacles and familiarizing themselves once again with the fantastic world that could be created with their imaginations. New members would arrive with each party or guild meeting. Even women would show up interested in the RPG, which was a pleasant and welcome surprise that helped shatter the stereotype some members still held of it being a ‘guy thing’.

The group would soon order individual dice sets, character sheets printed and minis hunted down as other games would enter their arsenal. As time passes the members create a lasting bond and friendship with one another becoming more than just guys and girls who game together. Birthdays were celebrated and highs and lows shared as they grew closer as friends while forgetting the prior boredom and loneliness.

What started as a group of out of shape guys meeting up to play Champions of Norrath or Marvel Ultimate Alliance soon became a community of friends playing a deeper role in one another’s lives.  Now the guild members meet more frequent than before and are on their way to mastering their crafts. The guild now are seeking to find a place for all people like them, fans of fantasy, comic book men and gamers to meet and congregate but above all quest and play together.

Who would ever believe that so many people from such distant walks of life could connect over their shared common passion for fiction, last of all in such times of negativity and isolation? In a time and city where the only thing for young adults to do on any given weekend is indulge in alcohol and lousy loud music. It is now finally that people from Split and the surrounding cities can meet up, game, talk or just exchange ideas with one another in person. With time this sub culture and form of entertainment and art will grow and embrace more fans and followers. What a day it will be when Split hosts its first Con, what splendid times will be had as ale is raised and cheer is shared by all present.

Until then, may your games be thrilling, reading inspiring and your questing EPIC. guantlet.jpg

Special thanks to:

Apic, Vedran, Stipe, Boris, Milos, Medeni, Kruno, Darko & Dom. I am glad we still speak for the most part and are still friends and adventurers til this day.

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Dungeons and Dragons : Legends of Drizzt ( Review )

It’s Drow Time at TFD as we sink our teeth into Wizards most popular popular board game. Read on to see more.

My guild and I decided to purchase The Legends of Drizzt board game (Wizards of the Coast) from  Carta Magica to make the winter a little more fun. The reviews we managed to see online from Dice Tower and other channels on YouTube all praised the game and what truly drew us into it was that it is a 5 player coop board game using the characters from the Forgotten Realms novels. We all were familiar with classic Dungeons and Dragons so it was not hard to make our decisions and don’t expect me to trash the game. They provide you with minis that you can use for your traditional D&D campaigns as well as a decent D20. As for adventures they provide you with a simple rulebook and an adventure book but fret not my fellow gamers there are also home brew and custom scenarios you can find online to keep the steam going.  What made this more interesting is that the original D&D Fantasy adventure game was only 4 players and required a DM whereas Wizards fixed this kink so that everyone can quest together. The coolest part is that the game is one of 3 released (Wrath of Ashardalon & Castle Ravenloft) which all serve as stand alone expansions meaning you switch treasure cards, heroes, tiles and adventures. In the last 6  months Wizards released Temple of Elemental Doom which too is a standalone expansion. The fact that Wizards provide advanced decks to keep the game playable longer than other similar products which you can get bored of recently. The hero selection is impressive but the lack of female heroes did not farewell with the female guild members but what can you do. I personally would recommend the game for anybody looking for a tabletop game one can play with family or friends and have a good hour and a half to kill.

drizzt

My rating would be 9/10

A must buy for anyone trying to get into fantasy RPG and a great gift for someone trying to get their friends into it.

 

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