Sunday, December 13, 2009

Episode 21

Here and Now: League of Legends, Eve, Caylus, Stone Age, L4D2, Borderlands, Canabalt, LAN Party, XMas shopping for gamers

Zendikar League Champion - Jon
Next battle will be with Magic: Shards of Alara.

Topic: Being "Naughty" in games.
Is being bad in games good? Is it okay to pretend to be evil in a game? Should game designers make games where you can be more than just the knight in shining armor? How about cheating in a game naughty? Check out the podcast to see if the crew is naughty or nice when it comes to their gaming.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Episode 20

Here and Now: Black Friday purchases, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead 2, Warmachine Mk II, Stronghold, Endeavor, Dragon Age Journeys, Race for the Galaxy AI, Rock Band 2 Tour completion, Dominion: Seaside

Topic: Graphics vs Gameplay
Does flimsy card stock in a CCG have an impact? Would a miniatures game be as interesting if plain miniature figures are used? If a video game has a 1080p stamp on it, will it make it the best game out there? Tune in to find out where the crew finds the balance between graphics and gameplay.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Episode 19

Here and Now: League of Legends, Dominion: Seaside, Borderlands,
Brutal Legend, Uncharted 2, and Netflix streaming

Topic: The Continuous Purchase
We were once used to the idea of buying a game once and being done. Expansions galore for stuff like RftG and Dominion, CCGs live and die by whether they expand or not. Digital gaming suffers the same with DLC, subscription fees (MMOs and XBox Live), and micro-transactions. Does the additional content make the cost worth it?

Zendikar League
Gamer Winning Percentage
Jon 1.00
Scott .666
Terry .500

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Casual League Play the Consoles & Cardboard Way

By Eric Jome

What is an Open Challenge Magic League?


In ‘cast 18, I mentioned that we’re playing a Magic: The Gathering league using a format we’ve developed, tested, and enjoyed many times. Here’s some of the details of this format for you; it should work for just about any CCG, but it is one of the best ways to enjoy Magic while avoiding the hassles of keeping up with the Joneses or carrying a suitcase of cards.

The Rules

The Open Challenge league format takes its name from the way matches are arranged – players just seek each other out and play. There are no rounds and no assigned games. You just play as many matches as you can manage in the time allotted. This makes for a very easygoing environment, where people can come and go as they please, getting games and playing casually.

The league is usually scheduled for a certain number of weeks assuming players will meet weekly in a designated place at some time to play – say, your LGS one night a week. A good number of weeks is 4 to 6. Over those weeks, each player will establish an average. The average is the number of match wins divided by the number of matches played – in essence, like a batting or bowling average. The player with the best average in the end is the winner. Typically, I provide a gift certificate from the store as a prize in the end.

To make the average meaningful, you’ve got to play enough matches to qualify. A good number is 2 or 3 per week. But, at 2 per week for 6 weeks, that 12 matches… and if someone gets lucky and establishes a really good average in exactly 12 matches, we don’t want them to rest on their laurels. So, we have one additional rule; you may not refuse to play a match against a player with a lower average.

To start in the league, we keep the investment very small. We each buy 5 boosters, perhaps adding 1 each week or every other week. We play 40 card decks, sometimes 60 cards as we get to about 100 cards in total. That’s the only buy in for the league – you could collect an entry fee to pay for a league prize if you like, but it would always be best to keep it modest.

There are a couple extra rules to consider;

1) Players should avoid playing against the same people in the same session (week). It is more fun and more fair to mix it up and play different people. This rule is sometimes broken by mutual agreement of players and organizer to allow people to get more matches.
2) It’s fun to trade, but you don’t want the league prize going to the best trader over the best player. So add a trade rule such as all trades are one for one, same rarity, same set and only 1 trade between pairs of players per session (week) is allowed.


This type of Magic league is fun, easy, leaves plenty of time for other games, cheap, manageable, interesting, and engaging. It takes the game back to its roots and lets you enjoy it in the best way possible… give it a try!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Episode 18

Here and Now: Magic:Zendikar Sealed Deck League, Left 4 Dead 2, Arkham Horror - The King in Yellow Expansion, Endeavor, World of Goo, D&D 3.5, The Beatles: Rock Band

Topic: Hardware Choices for Holiday Season
Are you looking to purchase a console or PC? The CNC crew talk about what hardware and software choices can influence your purchase.

On the Horizon: Dominion: Seaside, Dungeon Lords, Agricola

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Episode 17

Here and Now: Left4Dead:CC, Civ: Rev, Geo-Defense Swarm

Today’s Topic: Local Game Conventions
If you are looking to start your own Con, listen to the sage advice of Adam Loper. He just finished running the successful Oshcon. The Consoles & Cardboard Crew ask Adam how he put Oshcon together.
  • When did you get started with Oshcon? How long has the convention been in its current location and form? Has it changed much over the years?
  • How much does it cost to run the convention? How much time to prepare? How many people help out?
  • How many people attend the convention? What vendors and guests do you get and how do you get them?
  • What does the future hold for Oshcon? Do you see a chance to include video games or other media in the future?
Adam’s Con - Oshcon
Adam’s Game Company - Snarling Badger

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Episode 16

Here and Now: Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus expansion, Magic:Zendikar, Left 4 Dead: Crash Course, Brutal Legend, Space Hulk, Drawn, Dungeon Quest, Koi-Koi

On the Horizon: Eric and Terry talk about what games they are looking forward to playing. Left 4 Dead 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Space Hulk, Warmachine Mk. II, Pathfinder, Starcraft 2, Dungeon Lords, The Adventurers, Chaos in the Old World

Three members of the Consoles & Cardboard crew are heading up to Oshkosh, WI for Oshcon this weekend. From - OshCon is a tabletop gaming convention based in Oshkosh, WI. It will feature role-playing games, collectible card games, miniatures wargaming, dealer areas and more.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

"Why I Love Oshcon" or "Local Game Conventions; 5 Reasons They Are Gamer Heaven"

By Eric Jome

For the past several years, I've had the great pleasure of attending a local gaming convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It's held at the University there and is run expertly by some great guys.
So, I thought I'd take a minute to sing the praises of the convention and, by proxy, the praises of all the really great local game conventions I get to attend, because they all offer many of the same great perks that Oshcon does!

- One of the best things about a local game convention is that it is super easy to attend.
Oshkosh is just over an hour away by car; that's so close, I could attend both days and sleep at home if I wanted to... but why? The University offers rooms to convention goers in the dorms!
As a university town, there is great access to food within walking distance and there's plenty of parking. The area is safe and friendly to strangers. The convention itself is held in a university facility, meaning plenty of room that's easy to find and use. It would be hard to wish for a better location, more convenient and easy.

- You know what you pay to get in the door at Oshcon? Your Saturday badge is $6. Yes, just $6! Want to go on Sunday too? Add $4! Event fees? None! And heck, there's even a visitor badge for just $1. And the cost savings go way beyond that... want to be able stay the night? $25.50 for a dorm room for one evening. It's not the Ritz, but what are you doing in your room? You're crashing there. You'll be out gaming, so wasting money on a room isn't really where you want to spend it. And this is a university town, not a tourist district. You won't get fleeced for food or drink either.

Fun - Every year, I have a great time... because I make it happen. See, small conventions need you to volunteer to run games so there are events for people to play. When I go to a small convention, I sign up to run lots of games because it helps the convention, but it does something else even better for me. It ensures that there are plenty of games I want to play at the convention! I pick games I want to play and then I am sure that there will be things for me to do that I want to do. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity to pick longer or special games I don't often get to play at my weekly game sessions - there's going to be a whole host of opponents with time to spare to play the big game. And most small conventions offer additional benefits if you run events, like waving fees or a free shirt.

Friendly - There's a lot more community feeling at your local game convention. Many of the people you run into are acquaintances you met last year or know from other stores or events around the area. It's a great opportunity to meet up with gamer friends and play something you all love. The convention staff is easygoing and helpful; you aren't just another number or revenue stream to them. And the people who run events and make the convention happen do it for the love of gaming - these aren't demo monkeys or temps staffing the convention. This is for gamers, about gamers, by gamers... good people. People you can look forward to meeting next year - or invite to your weekly gaming session next week.

Extras - Lots of little things shine through with a small convention. Fun things like raffles and special events are available. You still have shopping opportunities with vendors. Local talents and game companies make casual appearances because, hey... it's easy, fun, cheap, and friendly. I've met major authors, distributors, aspiring designers, FLGS operators, you name it. I've seen auctions and math trades and craft lessons. All because this is a small effort that encourages the attendees to bring to the table everything they can in a receptive, friendly, easy going setting.

Local game conventions offer all sorts of great opportunities for gaming goodness. If you've got one in your area, you should give it a shot. And if not, why not consider starting one up yourself? In an upcoming podcast, we should have some advice on doing just that from Adam Loper of Oshcon and Snarling Badger Fame.

See you at the table, gamer.

Oshcon -

Magic the Gathering: Zendikar release

I've been playing Magic over 10 years now on and off. I enjoy the game for its simplicity and flexibility and I find it the best CCG out there. Wizards of the Coast keeps it alive and fresh with new sets that don't try and re-invent the wheel, but do a good job of making them unique and different.

The latest set - Zendikar, like all their "blocks,", has a theme. It's one of the neat things about Magic that keeps it alive. These themed blocks give new mechanics to the same old game ... breathing new life into the basics of tapping mana and casting spells. Zendikar's theme is LAND. A lot of the new mechanics revolve around playing of land. Land, of course, is one of the basics of the game. Nearly 1/3 of every deck is simply land, so a set that revolves around playing it and having effects based on the number of lands in play is pretty powerful to say the least.

Every set usually introduces a new mechanic or two. Zendikar's? Landfall:
Landfall—Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, ... do something.

For example: (from

So .. ya . every time a land comes into play (which can be almost every turn!) you can gain 2 life. Pile that on top of all the effects in this set that lets you get land from you deck and put it right into play (beyond your standard one a turn).

Verdant Catacombs

Land Rare
{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Verdant Catacombs: Search your library for a Swamp or Forest card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

The other main mechanic in the set is the return of the "Kicker" ability. This ability lets you pay extra mana to get an extra effect from your spell or creature. Very handy for late-game when you have the mana to overpay and get a two-for-one effect.

Torch Slinger

Creature - Goblin Common
Kicker - 1{R}
When Torch Slinger enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, it deals 2 damage to target creature.


Another new mechanic are "Traps". Traps are just instant spells you can get cheaper than normal if your opponent met some condition. Very handy spells that can catch your opponent by surprise and let's you be a bit more efficient with your mana.

Lethargy Trap

Instant - Trap Common
If three or more creatures are attacking you, you may pay {U} rather than pay Lethargy Trap's mana cost.
Attacking creatures get -3/-0 until end of turn.

I play only on a limited basis now. I just participate in sealed deck or draft events. The Standard competitive scene requires too much time and money for me to invest into that. That's not to say I wouldn't have fun, I just prefer the even playing field of limited play. That being said, I would highly recommend going to a local pre-release or release event. These events are big sealed deck events with the latest set .. fun for all no matter what your experience.

I played in the Zendikar pre-release the last weekend of September. This set, since it is all about land, is VERY powerful in a limited format. Some of the Landfall abilities are good on there own even if you are doing nothing but playing a basic land per turn as normal. It's almost TOO powerful in limited. As green has a majority of the Landfall effects (especially on creatures), green was used by a vast majority of players in the tournament. Something I had never come across before in a tournament happened. EVERY one of my opponents (6) were using green in their decks as a primary color. (I was too). With creatures that instantly get more powerful if you play a land (a basic mechanic of the game!) they are greatly efficient for their cost.

The Grazing Gladeheart shown above was a key card that my opponents had in my losses to them. They gained so much life from the simple act of playing land that I couldn't keep up. I was unlucky and didn't get any of those cards in my pool to play, otherwise I would have.

As I haven't been a constructed player in quite a while, I can't speak on how this set will integrate into the current tournament scene, but I definitely see a set of card that deal with land manipulation (a key to building tournament level decks) providing some powerful card options. So from a limited standpoint, Zendikar can be rough with all those Landfall abilities and lack of "easy" removal and seemed heavily skewed to green and white. Be aware of that when playing in sealed or drafting and you may be able to take advantage of that fact.

For those players who always complained about mana floods (drawing nothing but land for a few turns in a row) could make or break your game, this set is for you. With Landfall and Kicker costs, even a basic land could make your turn more exciting than it used to be.

Played in two drafts at Oshcon. I tried Black in both drafts. I would highly suggest against it. It has some removal, but it's creatures are overcosted and weak. Good, but just not enough big beats like you sometimes need in limited (for either offense OR defense).

The members of Console and Cardboard are also doing a Zendikar league. Starting out with 5 packs and playing over the course of the next few months, adding a pack every now and then. If you've never thought about a casual limited league for your play group I would highly recommend it.
- Everyone is on a even playing field (no "Mr. Suitcases")
- More relaxed than an official Limited tournament.
- Easy to get those friends who have been on the fence to try it out as a limited environement is less intimidating.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review (PC)

During Episode 15, Scott and I talked about Batman: Arkham Asylum. A combination stealth, combat and exploration game set in the world of Batman. Let's start off by saying I'd highly recommend it. Whether you are hardcore Batman fanatic and read every comic book or just know him from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight - let's just forgot about those bad Batman movies made in the late '80s and '90s* - it's a fun play for sure. What puts it over the top and makes it one of the best, and most addicting, games of the year for me? The "fluff" and ease of play.

This easily could have been just another attempt to cash in on a popular franchise with a sub-standard game. It's not.

This game is a hybrid, for sure. It combines the best parts of a combat game (like God of War), the best parts of a stealth game (like Splinter Cell) and simple exploration of the world environment. It is pretty easy to play, too. (And some may say too easy.) It was simply not frustrating to play nor did I want to throw my keyboard through the screen.


The combat is pretty simple compared to other fighting games. There are no multi-button combos and there are no excruciating long fights. You have two buttons: left mouse to attack - right mouse button to counter. The easiness of this game comes in that combat. You simply point (W-A-S-D keys(or analog stick on a console)) at an enemy and click the button. BAM! You make an attack. You continue to pummel that person or you point at another enemy and click again. POW! The combo comes from just timing your attacks at the enemies without getting hurt. Batman will jump across the screen, do sweep kicks, uppercuts, whatever "looks" cool without you having to remember or juggle with multi button combos. It's easy and looks cool to boot. The right-mouse button is for countering. And the game gives you a little blue halo around an enemy who is about to attack you and you simply time your counterattack based on that and you get some neat judo flips and backhanded punches. Simple. But too simple??

It's not God of War where you can get frustrated not remembering all the button combinations or mistime a move and you don't get the attack you wanted when you needed it.

This is Batman, not Superman. No need to punch all your enemies. There are times (usually against armed gunmen who would shoot The Bat down in a second) when you need to sneak up on people and take them down silently. Simply crouch and walk behind a person .. when you get close enough the game tells you in a pop-up "CTRL-RMB for Takedown". You do what it says and BAM! the guy is silently knocked out.

You get caught? Simply use your bat hook to grab onto a gargoyle in the roof and zip away. You have all sorts of options with Stealth mode, which makes it more entertaining then just slowly walking behind some for a silent takendown. You can glide down with you cape and knock someone out, lay explosives on the floor, batarang them to stun them, batclaw them over the edge, etc. The game also employs "Detective Mode" where Batman uses his technology to have x-ray vision. You can see through walls to see enemies, and you can see pieces of the environment (in bright orange) you can interact with (such as a ventilation shaft).

It is definitely not as frustrating as Splinter Cell or Metal Gear where if you don't walk slow enough or time a move around the cover badly - Bam! - game over.

This was the key to the game, that put it over the top for me. With the two-button combat and the detective mode to help be stealthy, the game may not be challenging enough for some. Rocksteady makes up for that in fluff. This game looks great. It sounds great. It is essentially an interactive movie.

This looks and feels like a Batman game especially since they have the voices of the Joker and Batman straight out of the Batman: The Animated Series. The writing for Joker's dialogue is brilliant. That IS the maniacal genius I picture .. constantly cackling, joking and taunting The Bat. Arkham is dark and mysterious, a lot of major villains are in the game or hinted at (you see Mr. Freeze's cell in Arkham, but he isn't there).

What really is fun, too, are the "Riddler Challenges". The Riddler hacks your radio and has placed secrets all around the Asylum. You can find Interview tapes that have fun little interviews with the inmates to give a little bit of background to the characters psyche's. (Similar to the tapes you find in Bioshock). You can find trophies tucked away in hidden spots throughout the island that unlock character bios, trophies and challenges. And in true Riddler form, he gives you riddles that prompt you to take a "picture" of what the solution to the riddle is (usually unlocking character bios of batman friends and foes). This is all just filler .. backstory; it adds to the "world". It simply is "fluff", but it's awesome. I got a history lesson in Batman and learned some new things about that universe. It definitely was part of the addicting appeal for me that is really hard to describe without experience it yourself.

This is not a large world exploration game like Fallout, but you do get fairly free reign in most areas and not just led down a path like most combat games.

And let's not forget the overall story! It had you going back and forth across the island, following clues and leads (remember, Batman IS a detective) and chasing the Joker and his minions and trying to first discover his plans and then thwart them the only way Batman knows how.

The story plus the atmosphere of this game (aka the "fluff") made Batman: Arkham Asylum a very immersive experience. I whipped through this game in a week. I couldn't put it down. It is always disappointing to get through a game that quickly, but also rewarding because it's "finished". (How many games do you have unfinished?) If fairly short single-player games bother you, this may not be for you. But the game does give "challenges" you can play to test and hone your combat and stealth skills in various arenas throughout the island, which can then be posted on system wide leaderboards.

The game isn't perfect though ...

One of the downsides to the game are its fairly lack of re-playability. I could play through the game again, but really no need. The challenges are fun, but really not that appealing to me as they are just versions of the same stuff you did in-game.

There is a lack of ability to go back to previous save games. Basically as you move along and go from one section of a building to another, the game auto-saves. A great feature in itself as you never have to leave the immersion by going to some clunky menu to save, but you have no ability to go back to a previous point once it auto-saves. You don't really need to, but it would be nice to go back and do a boss fight over again if just for fun.

The other downside is the shockingly missing feature of being able to watch the cutscenes after you finish the game! My game crashed after I defeated the end boss and as it was playing the finale scene .. the game crashed. When I reloaded I couldn't go back. (Thank you You Tube!)

Riddle me this?! Would you like a fairly easy, yet immersive combat/stealth game in the Batman universe?

If you like fluff in your games ... all those extras designers take to make it more than "just a game" ... if you like immersion and combat without an overly complex fighting system that drives YOU to the Asylum ... then your answer is probably yes!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Episode 15

Here and Now: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Magic:Zendikar, Twilight Imperium, Iron Dragon, Witches Brew, Majesty 2, Burning Rubber 3, Rock Band:Beatles, Space Hulk, D&D Online, AT-43, Valkyria Chronicles, Wii Sports, Warmachine: MK II

Today's Topic: Fluff
Fluff is light sugary goodness of gaming. CNCcast crew discusses if art and story are just important as game mechanics.

Apologies to all listeners - Skype was not kind to us for the first half of the show. However we have sacrificed a router to the cause and hopefully it will run better from here on out.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Episode 14

Here and Now: Race for the Galaxy(PC), Majesty 2, Magic Realm, History of the World, Blaze Blue Calamity Trigger, Katamari Damacy, PS3 Slim, Jovian Chronicles, Bayonetta One-Button, Wet

Today's Topic: Organized Play
Gaming on both sides of the digital line has seen a large variety of organized play.

The Magic the Gathering Pro Tour, the Madden house on ESPN, RPGA network, AD&D open, DDR and various fighting game tournaments. It's all out there and on Episode 14 of Consoles & Cardboard, Jon and Eric talk about some of the formats currently out there and just how important it is to the success and survival of a game.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Episode 13

Here and Now: Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus expansion, Twilight Imperium, TerrorWerks, Race for the Galaxy, Heavy Gear Blitz!, Space Hulk: new edition, Dawn of War 2, World of Goo, Imperial, D&D:4th, Deadlands: The Battle of Slaughter Gulch

Today's Topic: Luck
Does the crew like an element of luck in their games?

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Episode 12

I hit record for the latest episode of Consoles & Cardboard and I realized no one was around. I went down to Gen Con to track Jon down. I found him in his hotel room and plugged in the mic. Jon grabbed his buddies Jason Ticknor and Steve Nowicki. The guys were fired up to talk about what occurred at this year’s event. AT-43, Dante’s Inferno, Dresses, LARP, Auction, Vampire Abe and more. Note: Strong Language

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Episode 11

The crew gives their last minute discussions on what they are looking forward to at Gen Con. Gen Con veteran Terry Madden is brought in on the discussion.

Here and Now: Axis & Allies, Secrets of Monkey Island, L4D-custom maps, COD:World at War Kingsburg expansion, Fat Princess, Estimate Time to Arrival, Magic Realm, Mirror’s Edge, Guilty Gear XX ^ Core Plus

Today's Topic: Abandonware - Games left behind from the publishers in which we want to come back to. To our enjoyment some of the games have come back.
Netrunner, Secrets of Monkey Island , Games Workshop board games, Civilization(board), Space Hulk(board), Cute & Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters, Ultima, M.U.L.E., Alternate Reality, Adventure Games, X-Wing Vs. Tie Fighter

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Episode 10

Here and Now: Civ:Rev, L5R, Harbor Master, Enviro-bear 2000, Archon, Street Fighter 4, Race for The Galaxy: Rebels v. Imperium

Today's Topic: Game Choices at Gen Con
Race for the Galaxy, AT-43, Uncharted Seas, Le Havre, Automobile, Diablo 3(Hopefully), Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dragon Age

Gen Con To Do List:
Auction - Pick up some unique games and history.
Art Showcase
Asian Films: Some of it requires to be 18 and older.
True Dungeon
Water Bottle - Stay Hydrated.
Cooler - Fill it up with food. Big cost savings.
Don’t bring all of your games.
Comfortable Shoes
Mall is next door to take a break. Freak out the mall rats.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

What's In A Game? Ep2

In the second episode, Jon and John cover Roguelike games. We take the time machine back to 1984 to talk about playing Rogue on a local university Unix system. Monsters are only limited by the number of letters in the alphabet. Nethack takes Rogue to the third power. Diablo moves away from ASCII to color graphics. We make it through the podcast before the Sysload reaches 3.

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"Died of hypothermia with 564 gold. Press SPACE to see the graveyard."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Episode 9

Here and Now: L4D, Stone Age, Race for the Galaxy, Brass, Struggle of Empires, Let’s Tap

Today's Topic: Game Awards - Does an award matter in deciding to pick up a game. How important is the “Best of” sticker on a game?

Arctic Scavengers contest winner is announced. Thanks to all who sent in their submissions.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

We're on Podcast Alley

Howdy all,

Just letting the word out that we're now up on Podcast Alley. So take a look over there and visit us.

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-5c287e49b57e05d71e1bc1686748d38c}

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's In A Game? Ep 1

Welcome to a new segment that looks at the different genres within gaming. The first episode takes a look at miniatures. The crew discusses what first got them started with miniatures. What does it take to play a miniatures game?

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Arctic Scavengers Review

In Brief

C&C hitched up the dog sleds, loaded up the seal blubber, and headed into the frozen wastes of a new board game, Arctic Scavengers, this week. Jon, Scott, Eric and a few helpers guided their tribe members in the grim ice age of the future, digging through the ruins and fighting off each other for the last remnants of a fallen civilization... and had a great time doing it! Check out our full review below.

Arctic Scavengers - Scraping by never felt so good...

Arctic Scavengers is a game where you guide your tribe to success - whoever has the largest tribe in the end is the winner. Tribe members include all sorts of characters that you recruit with offers of food and medicine, the stuff it's going to take to stay alive in the harsh climate of the future. There are scavengers and refugees, but also specialists like hunters, scouts, thugs, and snipers to help you climb to the top.

Each round, you draw cards from your deck, representing these people as well as the tools you'll use to help you survive and grow. On your turn, you assign your minions to various tasks like scavenging the junkyard for useful tools, hiring new recruits by hunting up enough food to feed them, or preparing to make your stand for a valuable contested resource at the end of the round. As you acquire more things, they go into your deck, to be drawn in future turns and contribute to your growing tribe. You've got to pick the most profitable direction between scavenging, hunting, and fighting for dominance - this makes for a lot of interesting choices, the hallmark of a good game.

Perhaps the most interesting mechanic of the game is deciding whether or not to fight for the valuable contested resource each round. These resources can be powerful tools or expert specialists or large families - all things that will come in very handy in surviving the cold and hostile world (and scoring the most points). But, only one player can win the contest each round! So, if you are investing heavily in the fight, you aren't out scavenging the wastes or growing your tribe incrementally. It's a gamble - push your luck against the other players for the big payoff or not... but don't let them just walk away with the prize uncontested either! Heck, maybe even a bluff will be enough to discourage them from trying...

Right away, we latched onto a nice variety of strategies and got a chance to explore them. With the randomness of a deck of cards driving the game and a lot of strategies, it really feels like this game has a lot of replay value, too. We had no trouble throwing down 3 times in under 3 hours of play - it's quick and clever and stays fresh. And it stays pretty close, too. If you are picking up a lot of cards, it fills in your deck, making your turns less predictable - a nice balancing factor.

The production quality of the game was entirely acceptable, nothing flashy or especially cool, but very serviceable and thematic. There can be a lot of shuffling and handling of the cards, so sleeves might be a good investment.

From The Guys

Jon says:

For me, a good game should be about choices, and Arctic Scavengers brings choice in from multiple angles to provide a fair amount of decision making in a small package of a game. Fun stuff and worth checking out.

Scott says:

I'm a sucker for CCGs, and this game incorporates the deck building aspect of that genre into it's mechanics quite well. Plus, who can resist sniping a couple of goofs riding a sled down a pile of junk? Not this guy.

Eric says:

Savage struggle for survival in an arctic wasteland? Sign me up! Word on the street is that there are going to be a series of expansions and other coolness... this one's on my "must buy" list.

C&C Rating

At Consoles & Cardboard we.... Love it

Listen to Episode 8 of the Consoles & Cardboard podcast to learn how to win a copy of Arctic Scavengers for yourself!

Review by Eric Jome

Episode 8

Here and Now: Civ: Revolution, EVE, Sid Meier's Pirates, Free Realms, V:tES, AT-43, Drop 7

The CNC crew ventured out in Arctic Scavengers and let us know if they survived. Listen to the podcast to find out about the Arctic Scavengers giveaway. Contest ends July 1st.

Today's Topic: Game Store - What is the current state of the local brick and mortar game store?

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bejeweled Blitz - What's my motivation?

Spent another hour on the Facebook version of Bejeweled Blitz the other night, and I was trying to figure out why the heck I was dumping so much time into a 1 minute game.

At first, I thought it was a slot machine kind of phenomenon - keep playing and I'll hit the jackpot. Then I shifted it to video poker - "I feel like I have control over the situation, therefore I can win!"

The reality, the game is a race to get make a trigger happen. The player can utilize various strategies to make this trigger (pulling down the multipliers) but the random factor remains to continually kick you back down.

If you have not checked out Bejeweled from Popcap games, do give it a look if you enjoy casual play. It's a standard "match 3" game, and cascades are quite possible.

In the Blitz version, the player has one minute to score as high as possible. Swing out to Youtube and you will be able to find some fantastic high scores out there. The question I always wonder - how many times did you get a low score before putting up that high one?

Anyway, the trigger has two parts:
- Eliminate 12 or more gems to create a multiplier on the board;
- match the multiplier to make it take effect.

The first part of the trigger is the strategy portion. It's possible to get the board into a state to make the multiplier drop. But getting it to match can take a fair amount of luck.

And yes, this leads one back to the video poker syndrome - you believe you have control over a situation, when the reality is that you have no such thing.

This train of thought has allowed me to put Bejeweled Blitz to rest. Maybe it can help you, too....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Episode 7

Here and Now: Medici, Blood Bowl, Werewolf, Jagged Alliance DS, Stone Age, HOD: Overkill, Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer

Meaty Vs. Light Games - What makes up a simple or complex game? Does the length of time factor in?

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

This Prince puts you in the Movies

The Prince of Persia is one of the longer lived video game series. Born back in the age of the original Apple computer and the Commodore 64, Prince of Persia was an action puzzler that caught a lot of people's attention.

Reborn a few generations later with 3D graphics and environment interaction that hadn't been seen before, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was seen as another great game. And this version had a couple of sequels that appeared on the previous generation.

And now we have the latest incarnation, with a new "Prince" and a new concept of gameplay that challenges the definition of gaming.

Prince of Persia arrived from Gamefly and shortly went into my PS3 for a spin not that long ago. And that initial spin up was a joy.

The game's visuals were lovely to soak up, passing by the realistic for the art direction that made me think of a higher resolution World of Warcraft. Unified art is a good thing.

The controls were easy to learn and play with. Making the Prince wall run, slide down columns or swing from posts was setup in such a way that making mistakes in control were infrequent at best. For me, the toughest part in getting around the environments was transitioning from climbing vines to a wall run. Every now and then I found myself leaping off into space. This leads to that gaming change.

You cannot die.

Jump of a ledge, take one hit too many from a creature or boss, fall into some hazard that would kill you and your partner in world saving would use her magic to rescue you from which ever nasty would normally cause a respawn. This inability to truly fail makes this edition of Prince of Persia feel like you are playing a movie instead of a video game.

The benefit is a seemless experience that resonates unlike most other games that I've played before. No death screens, no re-loading, none of the restarts that you normally experience when dealing with most video games.

However, this path also suffers from making the game feel too easy. The challenge is lost when there feels to be a lack of penality for mistakes. And platformers, which is what defines Prince of Persia, live for making the player suffer.

So after my first round of play, I was torn whether to keep going to send it back as too easy. But the thought occurred that I could probably finish this game fairly quickly, and the dialog between the Prince and Elika had a quality that resembled the exchange between Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in the 1984 movie Romancing the Stone. They initially aren't interested, but they start to grow on each other and the relationship develops. This holds true for the protagonists of Prince of Persia and is a quality that kept me going for quite a while.

And then the second flaw hit me over and over and made me give up - that flaw was boss recycling. You fight each boss once in the intro for each section. Then you have three more opportunities, followed by a fifth time to finish the job.

So you've got roughly 26 levels, each one ending with a boss fight and a total of five different bosses. It wouldn't have been so bad if the one I kept facing could only be beat in a specific manner I could not seem to get the hang of. After several play sessions, back to Gamefly it went.

Oddly, it still remains the best experience that makes the player feels as if they're in a story more than a game. Most certainly worth the rental, and I may even pick it up if I catch it on the cheap.

So this gutcheck (which had a longer playtime than most checks) is very positive. Just be prepared for a smooth ride and start on the left side of the map for the most enjoyment out of the game.

Be seeing you,


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Episode 6

Here and Now: Plants V. Zombies, Dominion, Hordes/Warmachine, Prince of Persia

Gaming Addictions - Is there a game that you have played exclusively? Do you spend all of your discretionary income on a game? Just one more turn. Just one more turn. Just one more turn.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Tactical RPGs, Disgaea and Me

When the first edition of Disgaea was sent my direction from Scott, I was entranced. Cool little boards, lots of number crunching, fun game mechanics, leveling up weapons through dungeon exploration, Disgaea contained all of that and more that I did not even scratch the surface of doing.

I probably put more hours into Disgaea than any other RPG or game except for possibly Final Fantasy X.

Before Disgaea, I had played Final Fantasy Tactics, but never got around to completing it since some of the scenarios were rather difficult and I was not motivated to power level characters.

Since then, I played a little of La Pucille Tactics, a little more of Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced, and actually completed Song Summoner - the Square Enix tactical RPG for the iPod.

Sure there was Disgaea 2, which I was scared away from thanks to the reviews, and a few other TRPGs but none really grabbed me.

When Disgaea 3 was announced, excitement started to build. The game started appearing on my short list of games to pick up - but that on going theme of "It cost's too much." kept rearing it's head and I held off.

Enter Gamefly and Disgaea 3 was shipped to me for rental purposes. Finally, I was going to return to irreverent, self-aware tactical RPG I enjoyed so much many years ago.

And it was good.

The plot begins a demon kid out to overthrow his father (the current Overlord of the Netherworld) this time the setting is the school for demons, so the subsystems of the game have been changed, which is fine.

There is a classroom where the player can influence who can combo better with whom, pass new bills to improve the goods available for purchase, and add characters to use in the dungeons.

Then there are new stat changing Evilities, clubs for the characters to join in the class room, Magichange abilites allowing a class character and a monster character to join forces and do lots of damage. The list of things to track and monkey about with goes on and on.

So we have this game with tons of stuff to do, funny scripting, and lots of approaches to take. And then there is the player who has two young children and is approaching forty in age. This doesn't look good for one of these two parties.

In this case, I was the one to cave and return Disgaea 3. Playing a game like this would require such commitment that I would not be able to finish it unless all other games were left behind. And I already kicked World of Warcraft to the curb once, no need to fill that gap.

So the gutcheck on this game, is to give it a shot if you have the time and enjoy a deep, but easy, tactical RPG. I remember no real challenge from the first Disgaea, and this release did not appear to up the ante. But the fun factor of fiddling with numbers and beating up the bad guys was present.

However, if time is at a premium, then give this a pass for now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Episode 5

Here and Now: Uniwar, Flight Control, EVE:Apocrypha, V:TES CCG, Small World, Left 4 Dead: GotYE, Disgaea 3, Prince of Persia, Power Grid

Outside aids to playing games - Gamefaqs, Gameshark, Youtube videos, Card Counting, Calculators, etc

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Episode 4

Here and Now: Race for the Galaxy, GTA: CW, Rhythm Heaven, Persona 3: FES, Red Dragon Inn, Ticket to Ride: Dice

Just a generic walk down memory lane, discussing what games/systems one really enjoyed, and why.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rhythm Heaven - I don't have the beat

"Gosh, the kids love all those music games."

"Yeah. And they really like our Wario Ware games."

"Let's mix the two together!"

"How does it taste?"

And that is the question - how does a mix of music and mini-games taste.

I'm a fan of the music genre of games. I had my Playstation modded so that I could play a retail copy of DDR 3rd Remix. I've played Space Channel 5 and own a copy of the US Bust a Groove. Frequency and Amplitude fell into my hands based on the music along. These days, I have Elite Beat Agents and, naturally, Rock Band 1 & 2 with a bunch of music downloaded.

Meanwhile, I was a convert to the Wario Ware games early on. On my first trip to Japan, I snagged a copy of "Made in Wario" which I played the heck out of. Even my wife enjoyed playing those mini-games.

So when Rythym Heaven came around, it had a big "Jon must play" sign on it. To the top of the Gamefly Queue!

- First taste: Pbhtttt!

Very excited, I popped Rythym Heaven into the DS, fired it up, and launched into the first mini game. Not horrible, but it's the same action with little varition. Flick a rod in time with the music. Only got a Just OK rating though.

Second mini game, Glee Club. I saw Steven Totillo doing this on the MTV Multiplayer blog, this should be fun.

Tap, hold, and flick. Another Just OK rating.

I set it down for dinner - but am not amused.

- Second taste: Well, it's edible...

So far the graphics have been passible for a Wario Ware-ish game, the sound okay, but the game has felt uninspired and difficult for me. Possible a little on the long side too.

The next session had me in a slightly more peaceful state, so I sat down and passed the next game - filling robots with fuel - with a Just OK rating. The game has five ratings - Perfect, Superb, OK, Just OK and Try Again. I'm really not doing too good here.

The fourth game, Fan Club, had a tap-flick sequence that I never got the hang of. Three Try Again ratings later, the game let me progress to the next stage - a remix of the previous four levels.

Three more Try Agains and the game lets me move on. Move on in shame, that is.

- Third taste: It's okay if I hold my nose and chew.

So I get to sit down again and try it out. The third game is "Ping Pong" but really it's a game where you fill in the last beat - with a flick against the screen. And I can't get past the tutorial.

I try again and again and just can't seem to get past it. Until I look away from the screen. Suddenly, I have no problems with it at all.

Thus, the phrase "hold my nose and chew" comes to mind. The best way for me to play this game is to ignore the visual cues and rely on the audio alone. Which is contary to the core idea of a video game.

Unsuprisingly, this isn't the first time I've run into such an issue. Bust a Groove 2 and Space Channel 5 were not easy games for me. Parappa the Rapper never got past the demo for me. Even Elite Beat Agents hit a stalling point - although I hear that the Jamiroquai song is a tough one for many people.

And the Harmonix games kept the rhythm and visuals so closely tied together that I was able to get through without pain.

But the effort of playing Rhythm Heaven really left a bad taste in my mouth. The visual cues actually hampered my play and the idea of struggling through these stages in a continual state of failure has "Bad Idea" written all over it.

So the gutcheck to make here is - how much do you like rhythm/music games and how good are you at them. Then rent it if you think this might be your cup of tea.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and brush my teeth.

Monday, April 13, 2009

100 Minutes - Geometry Wars Galaxies

Oh Robotron, how much do we love thee. Let me count the ways....

Or not, as the number of twin-stick shooters that have come out in recent days is way to high to bother with.

However, props have to be given to the Geometry Wars series. It was a big player in the Xbox Live Arcade and inspired many developers to give their own twist on the twin-stick genre.

From my perspective, I've wanted to play Geometry Wars for quite a while, and it was a reason to consider the Xbox 360 as the high end console choice. Then someone came along and made a release on the Wii, and I was happy.

Although for some reason I never picked it up...

Flash-forward to Gamefly and not needing to spend forty bucks, which put Geometry Wars Galaxies into my Wii.

This was actually a difficult game to put 100 minutes into, as this style of shooter doesn't lend itself to long periods of gameplay. Even broken into two sessions, it was still a long haul - which leads to my first criticism. Games that are meant to be played in shorter bursts should not run forty bucks, which was the release price.

The second item is one that was proclaimed in nearly every review when the game was release - the Wii Classic Controller is just about manditory.

And I don't have one.

My thought was that a Wavebird Gamecube controller would work fine. Unfortunately, the developers Bizarre Creations and Kuju Entertainment, decided not to go that route. Instead it uses the Wii Remote for aiming and the Nunchuk to maneuver the ship - which all results in an exercise of frustration.

Times when I thought I had the system down, would suddenly lead to a brain mix-up and multiple ships lost. This is not the way to play a game, and tacks on a mandatory purchase of the classic controller. But with a 100 minute gutcheck, one does not run out an buy controllers to make it work.

The positives are in the gameplay and layout of the experience. Instead of starting at a specified level and progression, the player selects which level to play, each of which has a different arena, a varying number of ships and bombs, and target scores to reach. Which can provide decent motivation to play the game.

Geometry Wars Galaxies scores in a slightly complex fashion. While a destroyed enemy give a set number of points, they also leave Geoms behind. These Geoms power up the ship, increase a score mutliplier, and are used as a currency to unlock new levels and new drones.

Drones are a familiar concept for side scrolling shooter fans - it's the little helper bot that cannot be killed and does something special. In the game, there are multiple drones to select and each of them gain experience as they are used. Another way to increase longevity in a basic twin-stick shooter.

Yet it remains in my opinion that Geometry Wars Galaxies does not have enough to warrant purchase. Even at the seventeen dollars used, I feel that I would not get enough out of the game - and that would be true if I did own a classic controller.

Worth the rental, to take for a spin. And if you are looking for a good twin-stick shooter, you cannot go wrong with Geometry Wars Galaxy - provided you haven't downloaded one for ten dollars and own a classic controller.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Episode 3

Here and Now - TF2 Jarate, TF2 Meet the Sandwich, Kingsburg, Kingsburg(Java), Madworld, Roll Through the Ages, Alkemy, Dungeon Twister

Today's topic is game disappointments.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A minor delay

Howdy listeners,

We're running a little behind in getting the next episode recorded. Sorry about the delay, but we should be up next week and running regular after that.

Thanks for listening!

Jon BS

Friday, April 3, 2009

Madworld - not a Tears for Fears song

I recently spent 100 minutes in Madworld (Platinum Games) and that was enough madness for me.

The island of [Manhattan renamed] has been taken over by a powerful, criminal organization and turned into a massive arena for a Running Man/Most Dangerous Game television show. The player is Jack, the ultimate warrior with a chainsaw attached to his mechanical right arm, infiltrating the game to succeed in a mission that is not entirely clear at first, but it is implied you are working on the side of good.

Hook: Over the top violence in a three color palette – black, white and red - on the most family-friendly of systems, the Wii.

Gameplay: Brawler with lots of waggle and a point system.

Gut feeling: Worth the rental, possibly not worth finishing.

Madworld is a game that has received a lot of attention on game websites. The Sin City style in both colors and brutality on the Wii seems an unlikely combination. One that almost works and is playable is short bursts at best.

I have read reviews that state the violence as being so over the top it’s ridiculous. I think it really sends a message as to how much videogames can desensitize one toward violence.

When I first saw the John Woo movie Hard Bolied in 1994, I nearly couldn’t handle the Hong Kong level of violence. Two characters firing guns across a crowded hospital room made me slightly sick to my stomach. Three years later, I had the chance to watch it again and it did not bother me in the slightest. I even own the Criterion Collection version on DVD. I am sure that part of the problem is that the Hong Kong genre of action movie was new to me, but I know that my tolerance for violence in movies is much higher than it used to be.

As a game, Madworld is Double Dragon, Final Fight or almost a Heavenly Sword style of game. Bad guys keep spawning in a set environment and you have to take them out using your weapons and the things found around you. But instead of the villains falling down and disappearing, you get to finish them off in various brutal ways – and there are many, many ways to send a bad guy to their doom.

When I first went through the training level, I was stunned and slightly grossed out by what was on the screen. Firing up the game a second time had a reduction of surprise, replaced with a feeling of routine. I had begun to ignore the violent acts and concentrate on how to play the game better. I was numb to the visuals and what my character was doing. Desensitization at its best.

One hundred minutes of play (according to my Wii’s clock) was enough time for me to clear four levels and stop. By the end of that time, I could see how someone might want to finish playing it out – but only to satisfy the need to complete a game. Once I turned the game off, I was completely fine with packing it up and shipping Madworld back to Gamefly. Besides, my arms were getting tired from all the waggle involved in proper chainsaw use.

Platinum Games has release an initially shocking game, that has definitely raised a few eyebrows, and a few more hackles. Take a look if you have a Wii and want to kill mooks in large quantities. But do not drop the cash on a game that will only be remembered for the blood and the quantity of f-bombs dropped in a single minute.

Madworld Official Website

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Episode 2

Here & Now - Dawn of War 2, Retro Game Challenge, Stone Age, Agricola, Warmachine & Hordes, Anima Tactics

Today's topic is game reissues.

Episode 2

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Premiere Episode

Here and Now
Legend of the Five Rings
Retro Game Challenge
Game Difficulty - Is there a lack of it in today's games?

Episode 1

Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to Consoles & Cardboard

Hello Intrepid Listener!

Thanks for stopping by and checking out our podcast.

This podcast is a child of passion - which sounds kinky, but it is the truth. It is my passion for games and a push from our producer that got this thing rolling.

Games have been a part of my life for as long as I remember. The earliest game I remember playing is my aunt's boyfriend teaching me poker when I was five years old. That's some pretty crazy stuff - he and my aunt gave me a set of poker chips for Christmas that year.

Around the same time, I was introduced to Pong in the student bar (The Gausthaus) at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee where my mother was going to school.

Over thirty years later and games remain an important part of my life.

So when I started listening to podcasts, I naturally found a few that revolved around gaming. Mostly video games, as the 1-Up network had enough personality to cover most gaming podcast needs. However, Fell Calls (a podcast about Privateer Press games) caught my ear as well, with good information and an excellent banter between the cast I've stayed with it for quite a while.

Then the thought came of doing my own. When I told John, he picked up the ball and started pushing. A book on podcasting here, more suggestions on how to get one running there, even a test recording to see how it worked to record.

But while John liked being on the technical side of things, the podcast I wanted to do would be centered on gaming and we needed someone to keep things interesting. Scott is one of the few people I know who has the passion for both video games and board games like I do.

When the current generation of handhelds came out, we both owned a Sony PSP and a Nintendo DS very early on. Mind he thought the PSP would be the lead system, while I was confident that the DS would stand strong, we didn't back down from either system.

[And we both sold our PSPs within a year.]

And on the board game side of things, we met through the collectible card game, Legends of the Five Rings and have continued to play various games over the year - collectible, board and miniature games.

So it was natural to have Scott on the other mic and when he agreed to join in, it was just a matter of getting things rolling. That only took another year or so. But here we are.

So as the title says, welcome to Consoles & Cardboard. A podcast that takes a look at games, both video (the consoles) and analog (the cardboard). Each podcast will take on a topic or two that relates to gaming. We will also go into "The Here and Now" a segment where we discuss a couple of items that have caught our eye.

Thanks for coming by and please feel free to send us feed back at

Be seeing you,


Consoles & Cardboard
Jon Beckett Schreiber - Host
Scott Pagliaroni - Host
John Mack - Producer