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Thinking Out Loud

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Read any good games lately?

Aside from gaming, one of my favorite past times is reading. I generally read fantasy and science fiction, preferring my entertainment to be detached from the everyday. But despite getting to read some fun novels lately (I just finished William King's Slayer series and am almost done re-reading Rally Cry by William R. Forstchen), I find myself reading game-related content most of all.

Not reviews, GeekLists or session reports (although I do read quite a few of each), however. Game rules and rulebooks. I often bring rulebooks to work to read over lunch, or pack an RPG core book along on a trip. I love reading about new mechanics, trying to visualize how different rules work together, trying to imagine how strategies would unfold. Some games and rulebooks lend themselves to mock set up and playing through scenarios and situations, but games with clear rules and well designed layout and images can really convey a lot.

For roleplaying games, there's the added element of daydreaming about the atmosphere, and creating a narrative of play for the proposed setting or system. I can wile away the hours just thinking about fun scenarios, character concepts or the people I'd like to sit around the table with and game. In fact, for some of the systems, it never gets past the reading and the daydreaming -- simply too many games and activities competing for the ever-shrinking available time.

So what are some of my favorite games to read? I'm so glad you asked.

InSpectres (Memento Mori Theatriks) - A wonderful Indie design RPG. A slightly tongue in cheek, slapstick game about creating your very own Ghostbusters-esque organization to battle evil spirits and monsters. Wonderful, inventive gameplay and some very clever mechanics that put the focus on action and rely on the players to drive the story as much as the referee.

Hollow Earth Expeditions (Exile Game Studios) - A great pulp-adventure game about discoveries in the unknown. With a dash of Jurassic Park, a pinch of Raiders of the Lost Ark and you've got the recipe for an enthralling setting, plus some great mechanics (their Ubiquity resolution system) which keeps the action fast and furious. I've re-read this book several times, thrilled at the potential it offers.

Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage (Avalon Hill) - While not as thrilling a read, each time I read the rules, the game makes a bit more sense. There are still some confusing sections, but for the wealth of strategy and the depth of the immersion, reading the rules is very enjoyable. I always come away with new insights, or new ideas on what to try the next time around.

Battlestations (Gorilla Games) - Walking a fine line between an RPG and a boardgame, Battlestations rulebooks, despite some proofing errors, send my mind reeling in hypothetical ecstasy... As in, I keep dreaming up new hypothetical situations, trying to design new scenarios, and finding new ways to appreciate the mechanics and the love that Jason and Jeff Siadek pour into their game.

Space Hulk (Games Workshop) - The beautiful layout and wonderful diagrams help clearly explain the rules. Space Hulk has a lot going on, but the well-written rules and fabulous formatting help demystify the game. The game is very easy to grasp from the rulebook, and allows players to focus on dreaming up plans to crush their opponent.

What are some of your favorite rulebooks - boardgame, roleplaying or otherwise? What about them is so engaging?

3 Comments:

  • Right now? I'm digging Promethean: The Created.

    Not only does it have White Wolf's usual high standards of good gothic horror, it's the first RPG in a while that I've read whose rules support roleplaying tragic horror. It's not that hard to twink "Vampire" into "The Matrix, but with fangs" ... try to rip the gothic horror out of "Promethean", though, and the game simply doesn't work. I'm curious to try it at some point, if only to see how it works.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1:32 PM  

  • Did you go to Pinecrest HS back in the day?

    pinksoap@livejournal.com

    By Blogger Masta H, at 8:17 PM  

  • For me, my favorite rulebooks for reading are many.

    Amongst the top, however, 1st Edition Warhammer FRP, the Full Thrust line by GZG, Battlestations, and most of the Traveller line.

    Most white wolf stuff is worth picking up from the $3 bin, too, just for the read.

    Star Fleet Battles had a lot of neat stuff buried in the R and S sections (Races and Scenarios).

    Starfire (prior to Galactic Starfire) had some wonderful novella-campaigns. GSF lacks this.

    By Blogger aramis, at 8:01 PM  

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