Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holiday Buying Guide 2016

So every year I mention games worth checking out both for getting friends into gaming and as gifts for yourself during the holiday season. This year however my vast well of games seems to be starting to run dry, but that doesn't mean I can't clue you all in on past games you might have missed plus one not so new game I haven't covered before. So without further rambling here is my list of top five games worth checking out this holiday season.

1. Basic Fantasy

Well I said there as a not so new game I hadn't covered before and this is it. Basic Fantasy is a retro clone that came out ten years ago now, but I hadn't even heard of until this year. Part of that is because even though this game is fantastic they sell it for cost (or free but I'll get to that in a second) and have no advertising for it.  Unlike a lot of other retro clones out there that seem to try and recreate the feel of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons this one takes it a couple steps further back to replicate the D&D Basic & Expert sets. Rules have been updated to remove THAC0 and races other than human are no longer their own classes. I could go more into it, but like I said above it has a free option. Not only is the core book available for free as pdf, but so are all of the other books in the line as well as a BUNCH of supplement material that's only available online. So rather than ramble more about this one I'd say check it out for yourself HERE, the core book is only about 150 pages and if you like it print copies are on Amazon for $5 for the core and even less for everything else.

2. Dungeon Crawl Classics

Ok when I said there was one game I hadn't covered that was a bit of a lie. Dungeon Crawl Classics (or DCC) is another retro clone worth checking out. The rules are much closer to Advanced D&D with a lot more charts, tables, and minor rules so players that want some more crunch to their game. This one DOES have non-human races as class, but just like most clones I've seen has thrown the ancient THAC0 out the window. It's a solid game, but sadly not free and much more complex than many of of other choices. The core book is pretty tricky to find in physical form outside of their site, but PDFs are easy to get thanks to drivethoughrpg cashing in at about $25 for a VERY big and incredibly comprehensive book. If you have the time and money I'd check it out just for the unique magic system alone.

3. One Ring RPG

So easily one of my favorite supplements of this year has been the Adventures of Middle Earth stuff from Cubicle 7 for D&D 5e, but sadly they only have the player's guide out and without the DM's Guide not only are their no baddies or adventures to face, core mechanics are supposedly only found their which honestly makes the game as intended unplayable. That doesn't mean your adventures in Middle Earth are crushed however as these supplements are actually a 5e conversion of Cubicle 7's one system called the One Ring RPG. IF you can get lucky like me and find the box set cheap (got its for only $15 at my local used books store) you'll be rewarded with a GM's Book and Player's Book, 2 Maps, and even a full set of custom dice. If you can't then I'd just suggest just picking up of compiled rules either in print or PDF. The system uses a pool of six sided dice that are added together along with a d12 that functions as a sort of heroes dice. The system leans heavily on team work in every aspect, this means I wouldn't even attempt actual play without at least four players.

4. Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

Like I said the well has begun to run dry so I might as well bring out my top choices both to fill out the list and to tell those of you that were reading my site two years ago. Ok so everyone's heard of D&D and the newest edition has been everywhere, but I still figure it's worth a mention as MANY of us felt burnt by 4th Edition and I was one of them, but honestly you're worries can end. 5th Edition is kind of a master stroke in simple and elegant design. If you're looking for the million and a half options provided in 3.5 or Pathfinder you won't find them here, but I don't take that as a bad thing. The unnecessary bells and whistles have been stripped off for a game that's in many ways closer to D&D Basic than it's been in years. There's more than enough class and race options to feel like you have some real choice (especially if you count the free Unearthed Arcana articles). Just like with any version of D&D the core book add up quickly, but there ARE free rules available with some more limited choices to try everything out HERE.

5. Savage Worlds

No list would be complete without my all time favorite system, Savage Worlds. The core book isn't free but it is under $10. When I say this system can handle anything I mean it, I've run horror, fantasy, super heores, even a harry potter game just out of the core book. When you add in the companions ($20 per genre) or any of the MANY settings (usually $20-$50 depending on setting) this games flexibility truly shines. On top of all that this year they came out with Savage Rifts which not only steps up the power of the game an entire notch, but also takes a classic game that was far too complicated and honestly kind of a mess and brings it into this much easier and cleaner rules set. The best way to see everything Savage Worlds can offer is to just check out their website, then either hit amazon for print books are if you don't want PDFs though them go to Drivethroughrpg as everything can be found there (and them some if you count 3rd party publishers which there is a ton). I'd personally suggest ETU (East Texas University), its basically the best Buffy the Vampireslayer game you'll ever play.

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