Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tommy's Top Six of 2012 and Birthday Blog Giveaway

My blog officially turns three years old today, and has taken on a life of its own. I’m kinda proud of that. It is time for me to name my Top Six of 2012, the six books that stood out the most to me, under the following criteria: 1) I had to have had no involvement in the production of the book. 2) Only one title per publisher. 3) I had to have reviewed the book between the time I made last year’s selections and the beginning of December this year (to give me time to contact the publishers for the Birthday Blog Giveaway). Without further ado, in alphabetical order, the Tommy’s Top Six of 2012:

Why You Should Buy It: I loved the concept of the original Little Fears, with kids taking on the things that go bump in the night…but Jason L. Blair says he’s grown as a designer, and it’s clear to me that he has. This version is mechanically tighter in every way, with lots of cool stuff like Belief, which is generally more powerful, the younger your kid is. Additionally, the line is well supported with a supplement (Among the Missing) as well as microsupplements (Campfire Tales). Some of the background elements from the first version of the game still remain, while others are completely overhauled. Monster creation rules, plot seeds galore…this is one of the two best options I’ve seen for “kids versus monsters”, and it is the only one of the two currently being supported by the publisher. Whether you prefer “Monster Squad” or “Stephen King’s IT”, Little Fears Nightmare Edition has what you need, taking a good concept and backing it up with tighter writing and rules than the original.

Why You Should Buy It: While Marvel Heroic has yet to knock off Marvel SAGA as my supers game of choice, or even my Marvel game of choice, it is going to be easier to find players for than my beloved SAGA, due to the fact that it’s in print and currently supported. Additionally, MWP have taken a licensed RPG and tried to lower the barriers for entry as best they can, with a reduced price point and even multiple entry points, with each of the first books in their Event series having a version that includes the Marvel Heroic rules. The first event series has already been completed this year, covering the events of Civil War, but while you may need a bit more knowledge of the event than is provided in the books, the Event itself is anything other than a paint-by-numbers railroad back through the events of the comics. Indeed, MWP’s Events allow you room to take the framework of the Event and let your players cut loose in it. MWP’s also provided some great freebie releases, including random character generation, as well as supplements that included not only Thor and Hulk, but plot seeds for including them in Civil War. Add in the “Unlockables”, and you get a superhero advancement system that does a better job of emulating comics better than the standard “zero to hero” progression found in most RPGs.

Why You Should Buy It: Random chart after random chart after random chart. In my opinion, it is the best RPG I have seen for insane, gonzo, post-apocalyptic action. The main mutation table is a d1000, for pete’s sake. The rulebook covers most everything you need to get started, even providing alternate apocalypse justifications like zombies or aliens. The game has some fantastic support, with a ton of freebies available at the Outland Arts website, as well as the Excavator Monthly magazine and more. It is just one of the easiest games in the world to roll up characters, roll up random encounters, etc. No planning needed, just dice! A post-apoc game tailor-made for my tastes…I can’t NOT recommend it.

Why You Should Buy It: Very few PostApoc games really “speak” to me, despite how this list may look, but Reclamation did just that with its theme of hope and defiance in the face of a crumbling world. No, it’s not going to be easy to take the world back, but it has to be done. Not only is there hope in the crumbling reality, but the PCs ARE that flame of hope. The five Marks provide more focus than your standard mutation tables, as well as the cool, thematic nastiness of the Sickness overtaking your heroes for using the powers they develop. For a more “heroic” and “focused” PostApoc game, it is hard to go wrong with Reclamation, with the concept and powers combining to give Reclamation that extra “punch” above and beyond the typical PostApoc RPG.

Why You Should Buy It: Savage Worlds is my favorite in-print RPG. Maybe my favorite of all time. In addition, I am a HUGE fan of the Explorer’s Edition format, providing the rules at a low-cost entry point while relying on the supplementary sales. As for the game itself? For me the proof is in the fun. I’ve ran the game over multiple genres and multiple sessions, and as my Necessary Evil game concludes, I’m hard pressed to think of a campaign that has been more epic or more deeply personal. Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition also adds a healthy dose of new material, including new Edges and several options for you to use to tweak your games, making the Savage Worlds rules even more self-contained and versatile than they already were. It is $10 for a system that I have used to run westerns, horror, supers, fantasy and swashbuckling, and later this year we plan to use it to bring some of our favorite D&D settings back to life.  There’s a reason I called the original Explorer’s Edition my best RPG purchase.

Why You Should Buy It: A great game of investigative horror, tremulus introduced me to the Apocalypse Engine games, causing me to also pick up Dungeon World and Monster of the Week. The set-up with the Playbooks having all of the Moves already printed on them made the game incredibly easy for us to pick up, and I have yet to encounter any “Player Facing” oddities like I normally do in such games. Additionally, the Ebon Eaves town creation is a very interesting subsystem, as we did the town creation and dropped into gameplay all in about half an hour, without any prior preparation. Even better, as good as the main rulebook is, the material slated to come is even cooler. The product of a massively successful Kickstarter, tremulus made it to our table shortly after its release, and is very likely to come back very soon.

And now, for the part you all really want to see: The free stuff we have to offer, and the rules for entering the contest.

As with the last two years, we had prizes donated by all six of the selected publishers…but this year, we also had the wonderful people at Fable Environments offer us prize support, making this the biggest giveaway we have ever offered!

And now, the prizes:

-          One (1) Little Fears Nightmare Edition PDF Bundle (Little Fears Nightmare Edition Corebook, Little Fears Among the Missing, Campfire Tales #1).
-          One (1) PDF copy of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.
-          One (1) PDF copy of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.
-          One (1) PDF copy of Marvel Heroic Civil War Premium Edition (includes the Civil War Event and Marvel Heroic rules).
-          One (1) PDF copy of The Mutant Epoch AND one (1) print copy of The Mutant Epoch.
-          One (1) PDF copy of Reclamation.
-          One (1) PDF copy of Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition.
-          One (1) PDF copy of tremulus, to be awarded upon the commercial release of the book.
-          One (1) PDF bundle of Fabled Environment Cyberpunk Locations Maps Set.
-          One (1) PDF bundle of Fabled Environment Cyberpunk Locations Maps Set.
-          One (1) PDF bundle of Fabled Environment Cyberpunk Locations Maps Set.

That is eleven big prizes from seven great publishers, helping me say THANK YOU to each and every one of you for reading this blog!

To enter, simply send me an e-mail to tommyb(a)sstelco(dot)com, with the subject (minus the quotes) "Happy Birthday Blog", listing your order of preference for the prize. Once I have closed entries by 11:59 PM Central Time on January 15th, I will use a randomizer to determine the winners...#1 gets their first choice, #2 gets their first available choice (their first choice if it wasn't taken, second if it was, and so on).

Thank you once again for reading this blog, and thank you to the seven publishers for providing prize support for this giveaway! Do yourself a favor and support them, because they all make fantastic games and gaming supplements!

Have a Happy New Year!



  1. Happy New Year! I hope my blog someday gets as successful as yours.
    Cheers and more gaming for us all!

    1. I appreciate the sentiment, Tobie...and I agree: More gaming for us all!

  2. Happy New Year to you and congratulations on your blog reaching 3.

    Although you might need to change the name of the blog at some point!