Thursday, 10 January 2013


I am the Warden!!

Last week, I teased my Twitter followers about a quick game drafted up over New Year's Eve called TPK and it's been sitting on my desk ever since. We finally had a chance to take it for a test spin this morning and I'm pleased to report it's held up very well to my expectations.

TPK does indeed stand for "Total Party Kill" and the objective of this fantasy miniatures skirmish game is to die with honour in the Arena. Each player controls a single combatant - either a Warrior or a Monster - drawn from a deck to challenge every other combatant in sight. Starting with only 1 Health, you gain additional Health by successfully attacking your opponents. When a combatant is reduced to 0 Health, the player randomly chooses a new one and returns to the Arena. Every time you hit an opponent, you gain 1 Damage and the combatant with the highest Damage at the end of a 60-minute match is declared the winner. If the winning combatant is still alive at the end of the match, they can rise to become a Champion and be permanently added to the deck.

As each combatant increases their Damage and/or Health, they can unlock additional Abilities, but they have special tools at their disposal from the beginning. Warriors come with a Starting Item (including weapons) and a Racial Ability, while Monsters start with a Natural Item and an Extraordinary Ability.

This 8-page PDF allows everyone to use their existing minis and battlemaps to run an endless cavalcade of matches and is intended as a pick-up game running up to 60 minutes at a time. While there is a lot of additional work and text revisions to make, I'm very pleased with how it went this morning and so was the other player. Additional rules for movement and Obstacles (or at least fleshing them out in greater detail rather than adding to them) are at the top of the list and I'll have to consider addendums to various combatants' abilities, such as the Mage and Psionicist. On that note, here's a list of the combatant available in TPK at the moment and basic rundown of their strengths.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Conflicting Morality

I am the Warden!!

There's an interesting combination of films releasing this weekend and they're a prime example of how morality is not only subjective, but adaptable. Zero Dark Thirty, the complete account of Bin Laden's assassination (with details provided by the CIA) and Gangster Squad, a fictional story of cops bringing their own brand of justice to the mob in the 1940s. On the surface, they're two completely different films, yet their standpoint on morality creates an interesting social conflict.

The big controversy regarding Zero Dark Thirty is the interrogation scene and it's causing such a stir in American political circles, there's an upcoming congressional hearing to determine how much information was provided to the filmmakers and whether or not the CIA offered up a red herring to promote their view on the effectiveness of torture. Going solely off The Daily Show, mind you, the emphasis of the debacle appears to be the merits of torture in counterterrorism and intelligence operations. The truth about first world countries using torture to gain access to essential information can be almost as divisive as abortion and gun control, all of which comes down to the people's belief in being "better" than your enemies.

Yet Gangster Squad is specifically about good cops breaking the law to enforce it by shooting up unarmed gangsters and probably all sorts of vicious beatings. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a scene where someone's being viciously interrogated. In a sense, it takes the dilemma of Zero Dark Thirty and says "Yeah, so what?" while beating the shit out of a guy strapped to a chair.

C'est irony, no?

Monday, 7 January 2013

A Sporting Decision

I am the Warden!!

Over the weekend, monumental news greeted professional hockey fans as the NHL and its players' union finally reached an agreement, thereby allowing the league to start playing almost five months late and with less than half of the season available. Don't worry, I'm not going to really talk about the NHL, hockey, or even sports, but it is a serious metaphor for something all adults must face several times in their lifetime.

Sooner or later, we all have to stop enjoying the things we used to love.

There was a NHL strike less than ten years ago and I swore off watching the NHL as soon as the strike started, infuriated over the players' union prohibiting their players from "representing their teams" in any fashion during the strike, including charitable events. There was a major charity golf tournament in Ottawa with half the roster unable to show and help raise needed funds for sick kids. My anger overwhelmed any possible enjoyment of the game and I stopped watching for a couple of years.

When I started dating my now-fiance, I got back into hockey because she played and was a huge NHL fan. What can I say? The limit to anyone's anger is getting laid. Now that the NHL is looking to come back from yet a second strike in a single decade, I'm faced with the same desire to stop watching the league. This time, however, the reasons are different. This time, I think it's a problem with professional sports altogether.