Big Kids 1

My four year loves board games (it’s was destined) So does my eight year old. I could yammer on why that’s a positive but let’s cut to the chase here’s the three step plan
Step 1. Get your kids/nieces/nephews interested in board games

Step 2. Advise their parents or yourself on what games they should buy

Step 3. These kids grow up and discover beer and sex and Boom! you inherent some sweet free games 
So where to start? Well the beginning is a fine place and simple is good. 
We’re surrounded by board games. Walk into a toy shop and chances are there’s a whole aisle full of board games for children. Granted the majority of them are not games as such, they’re time wasting preprogrammed exercises with limited skill and I guarantee you limited interest for kids. Kids are not dumb, they know a good game from a bad one. In this series I’m going to see if I can find a few decent games in the indifferent aisles of your local toy shop…..

First up I’m going to look at Loopin Chewie. 
For a number of reasons not least my kids got it at Christmas and I’ve had time to play it a good bit (thanks Santa)
Loopin Chewie is a cash in on the older game loopin Louie. The first thing that strikes you is Disney has taken its cut by reducing the players from four down to three which is a pity. It would be a much better game with four so if you are not hell bent on a Star Wars theme I recommend going back to the original Louise the review covers both. It’s also cheaper. 

Having a couple of young children, nieces and nephews I’ve played any number of these type of mass market games. This is one of the better ones. A spinning arm in the center holds the millennium falcon which is out to get you. 

Each player starts with three storm trooper coins lined up on a little sloping slot and smack bang in the line of the circling millennium falcon. Your mission with the aid of a little attached paddle is to swat the falcon up and away from your troopers and hopefully have it come down and take out your opponents ones (I don’t know maybe you’re hoping to get promoted) When you tap the falcon away because of the way it’s hinged and balanced it may spin off, it may loop and come back for you or hopefully it may rise and land amongst an opponent’s guys costing them a life. The game continues until all but one player has lives left. 
Okay okay this is a simple game. I’ve pretty much just explained it in one sentence but beneath it’s simplicity is a game that stands at the top of its class. This is a fun little game. Games are short, typically five minutes but there’s a real go again feel once it’s over. All in all depending on your group you’ll get a good half hours play out of this before everyone has had enough but you’ll be back another day. 
Compared to a lot of the stuff on games shelves this is not bad, the reduction to three players is a pity. It would be a much better game with four
Worth the money? That’s debatable. Certainly not full price while Star Wars fever is still raging. I picked this up as a half price deal and I’m happy with my purchase. Want to get your kids into board games? This is not a bad start or stop along the way

More mod it Monday


Cash and Guns is a pure party game. It was out of print for a long time and the new version is a fine game. However we can make it better…

The original version had the option of an undercover cop and THIS turns the game from a throw away filler to something much more solid by adding a traitor element. Traitors are Such fun in games.

Here’s what you’ll need. A deck of cards or tokens for recording shame and eight cards with “call made” written on one side and eight more cards with the word COP written on one…. I’ll wait while you get that together

Before the game begins secretly deal out the cards so one player is secretly picked as the COP. Everyone checks whom they are discretely. Everyone else are normal mobsters

Mobsters play the game as normal. The cop has a harder but more fun task. They have to Telephone the FBI three times and survive until the end of the game

There’s an extra mechanic for everyone. Shame. Anyone who ducks their character in a shootout gets a shame token. Each of these are worth -5000$ at the end of the game


The game clips on as normal. Once loot has been split up an extra phase takes place. The phone call

Starting with the godfather they pick up the call made card with the blank side face up and place it under the table hidden from everyone. Now IF you’re the cop you have the option of flipping it over secretly before you hand it to the next player under the table who was also standing at the loot share. The card will work its way around and the last player will stick it up on the table showing the call happened or it didn’t

Repeat this exercise for each round. If at the end the cop survives and three calls are made they win otherwise it’s back to first principle and the mobster with the most money wins.

There’s one extra rule which is, the cop cannot have more than one shame token in their possession AFTER the first call was made. So they have to sweat it out til the end

Go on try it. It’s how were going to roll at Knavecon. We had a lash of this last Thur and it really makes the game so much better.



** Email Scanned by Elive’s Virus Scanning Service – **

Friends with Benefits


“Mod it Monday”

Over the years I’ve come across a number of tweaks and mods for games that IMHO improve them quite a bit. These are usually decent games to start with but some clever folks have applied brain power and made them even better. I’m now going to share a few of those and hopefully like a new graphics card In your PC, breath some new life into some old games

First up is the venerable Settlers of Catan

A complaint sometimes wheeled out (mostly by LOSERS) is that’s when someone gets ahead it’s real hard to come from behind (feel free to insert appropriate oh errs or giggities right there). The welfare rules are clever and make this game a real close run race.  I don’t play Catan anymore without them.  Here’s how it works

First you’ll need a number of welfare tokens.  An ordinary deck of cards works well.


After each roll for resources, every player who didn’t get a resource gets a card from the deck (a welfare chit if you will).  During a player’s turn they can cash in the cards at an exchange rate of what their score currently for one resource of their choice.  That’s it.

So early on since you start with two points resources cost two cards each.  As you progress the exchange rate will get higher as you score.  It’s a real equalizer.  Play a few games this way and you’ll see some interesting possibilities like holding back and making a sprint for the finish with welfare chits.  It really makes for an interesting game.

Tell you what, don’t trust me (sound advice), try it for yourself and let me know what you think





Happy 6


Jay McKeown is the director of BroCon. A yearly three day cornucopia of board gaming, cosplay, console gaming and all things gaming gaming (yes I said it twice). He’s a Regular at thur night games, is despicably young and has a super power of inhaling rules and being right about them far too often

I caught up with Jay (wasn’t hard) and asked him what makes him happy about gaming and gaming cons

Jay. When did you first start gaming ?

I got into gaming big when the Lord of the Rings movies came out. I started buying the DeAgostini Battles in Earth magazine and that in turn brought me to our LGS for the first time. As I got older Warhammer took over from there, and after several years of that the cheaper options of board games, X-Wing and console gaming took over. Gaming evolution at its finest…sort of.

How did you become involved in Brocon and why do you do it?

In the con’s debut year they wanted to run Warhammer but had nobody knowledgeable in the subject. So I did my thing and invited myself onto the committee and it sort of stuck, and then grew to the point where I am now running the whole show. Running cons it the best and worst thing you can ever do in my opinion, and that’s why I am still here…that and nobody else wants to do it, ha.

What’s your favourite bit ?

Of gaming? Winning…no, really though, it’s that intrigue of seeing where any given game might go. I’m a sucker for the mechanics. Of running a con? The moment it begins and the moment it ends; they each have their charm.

Cosplay is quite a specialist area. What attracted you to it ?

Honestly, it was already there when I showed up. But it is one of the largest parts of the con and shows perfectly just what a con is all about; having a laugh with your friends, everyone else’s opinion be damned. It demonstrates perfectly the sort of comfort zone that nerd events of all kinds have brought about.

What is it that people love about gaming ?

I reckon the escapism of it all. It’s great not to have to worry about real life for a few hours and be at ease.


You attend a lot of conventions What makes a good games convention?

I am going to echo what many of con regulars have figured out as of late, and that’s having plenty to do. The shininess of the whole spectacle will tide you over for maybe an hour or two, but when you are paying €15-30 for a weekend depending on the con, you want to be entertained from start to finish. And that includes trying to appeal to as many different types of people as possible, not just niche groups.

If your house was burning down what would you save?

Blasphemy inbound, but it would have to be the Playstation. It is the most expensive thing to replace.

If you had a grand only to spend on gamying what wouldn’t you buy ?

I can’t really answer that question for marketing reasons; I may need some sponsorship for the con down the line somewhere. I can tell you what I would buy though; War of the Ring and Forbidden Stars. Best games of the year for me.


What’s going to be the next big thing in gaming?

Honestly, not a clue, and the whole thing about gaming is the here and now is good enough until that comes.

Flick it like it’s hot


Ascending Empires is an oddity. It’s a 4x space game with and unusual movement technique…. You flick the pieces to move them. That’s right it subbuteo in space. OK you’re first thoughts are this is dumb until you sit down and play a game. It’s really really good. Play this game if you get a chance. I’ve had it at Knavecons and its proved itself a minor hit.


The game sees you and up to three chums expanding out from your initial home planet with a growing murder of ships and troops, colonizing and more importantly defending planets which come in four different colors.

It’s like a condensed version of Twilight Imperium, all in, in under two hours. The flicking mechanism is subtle. It’s not Rampage. You won’t end up flicking pieces off the board. It’s way more interesting than that and it works so well. It does add a random element but rarely a game ruiner and I’d take this over dice rolling any day. Well at least in this game.

Depending on what planets you grab you can tech up different paths and getting to the top of any of these gives you near apocalyptic abilities.

Everything you would expect from a space game are in there. Exploring unknown worlds so you can grab resources and build more stuff. Epic space battles. Well the battles tend to be small scale but no less heart stopping. Back stabbing (my group would back stab at snakes and ladders if it could), researching tech so you can lord it over the other cave man like empires.


Compared to other games of its type this is a fast game. It certainly packs in a lot during it’s playtime. There’s also very little downtime. I can see why they stuck to four players. Any more would drag the game too much so four is bang on.

This is one I’m going to whip out again and again (oh matron) when i need a four player. Its got everything I want and it certainly gets a place in my cold dead hands collection (c). It’s that good



Happy 5 – Games Nights


Harvey O’Brien runs a regular boardgames night in his house every week, he’s a founding member of the South Dublin BoardGamers, he knows a thing or two about games and he has a beard. I’ve had the pleasure of joining him and his guys for games some time back and they’ve now become regulars at the various Knavecons (which is really just a big games night with lots more people).   I caught up with Harvey to ask him a little bit about running a games night and what it’s all about.

  1. Harvey you run a regular games night.  Why’s that then?

Because I enjoy it. It’s fun to meet up with people that enjoy modern gaming and play whatever hits the table. It’s sociable, it’s relaxing, and it’s good for the brain. It’s also generally just good craic. We play a couple of times a week in SDBG. When we started playing as a group, it was just three of us. We played in our homes (and still do), so we’d just rotate hosting week by week. Sometimes it was also simply practical to go from house to house, if someone had a particular game they wanted to play, they’d put it on the table at home before the others arrived, get all set up, etc. As time went by and more people began to join us, it was simplest to keep the three primary venues as a kind of focus. It also meant there was no pressure on anyone else to be a host, particularly when some of our members were in rented accommodation or had housemates or whatever. It also gave the group a solid centre: you’d know that something would happen in one of the three venues at least once a week, and you could just come along and play. Tea and biscuits provided. No crisps… 😉 As time went by, we added more nights, and more types of nights, ranging from what we’d call an ‘open night’ where there’s no fixed game or numbers, just whatever people feel like and whatever accommodated the numbers, to a ‘closed’ night where you had a specific game with a specific number of players required, and then we’d have the ‘epic’ nights where we’d meet on a Friday and play through to the wee hours on Saturday with some big box game like Twilight Imperium or Game of Thrones. These days we still have the three ‘central’ venues, but others do host, particularly those that can only play at the weekend because of family commitments.

  1. What’s your earliest memories of gaming?

Well, that depends on how you define gaming. Modern gaming is one thing, but of course I played all the regular games as a kid. My childhood was spent mostly in West Clare, and I remember many nights in the dark during ESB black outs playing 45 with my family by candlelight. Seriously. The 70s. Actually I had my first taste of modern games with HeroQuest, which I bought in Easons in the late 80s. I quickly swallowed up that whole MB cycle of ‘new’ games, but it was years more before I came across this game called Carcassone and went online to find out what it was all about, where I discovered BoardGameGeek and my eyes were truly opened… It was about a year after that I think I finally connected with Jimmy and Niall and formed SDBG.


  1. What’s the essential elements that make a good games night?

Everyone needs to feel welcome and comfortable. We are in our homes, so it’s like welcoming any other guest. It’s obvious, but everyone is there to have fun. Yes, your definition fun varies depending on personality, but that’s part of the balance of hosting. You have to take into account who’s coming and what kind of games or game systems they enjoy, and it’s often a question of bringing out a mix of games that will suit the group. It can be tricky, but we all have a good enough range of games that we can generally find something that works. Depending on numbers, you might break into a few separate games and then swap around, or run some party games like werewolf or Shadow Hunters to get everyone playing together. Sometimes people will want to play old favourites, sometimes they’ll be hungry for shiny new stuff. You’ll generally know from the people coming what games might not be suitable at all, or which might be a stretch but might work. It’s good to throw a bit of a challenge in there sometimes, but you don’t want to put anyone in a position of being bored or frustrated. You get a sense of people’s tastes early on, and quite honestly, you’ll know very quickly whether they’re a fit for the kinds of things the group plays in general. That’s also part of the trick with running a games group anyway – personality – and again once you start with a known centre, you work out from there and generally will get a group going that plays well together.

  1. Is there an optimum number of gamers for a games night?

Again, it depends on what kind of night you’re planning. If you’re doing an open call, you could end up with ten or twelve people, or with two. On the other hand if you want to play a game that is ‘best’ with a given number, like Battlestar Galactica for five or Dungeon Lords for four, then you have to either make sure there’s enough players to make up another full game or lock down your numbers. It also can depend on physical space, and not all of us have the same amount of room. Some games are table-eating monsters. Conquest of the Empire is one, which we do actually play from time to time (an old favourite), or Railroad Tycoon, which I think is officially the largest map. War of the Rings: CE is a beast as well. Again though, it very much depends on what you’re doing. Jimmy has an awesome wargame set up in a separate room, with proper terrain and painted metal miniatures, and there are regular wargamer sessions running Napoleonic scenarios for two or four players. I guess it’s a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question, really.


  1. What do you love about hosting games nights?

Again, we’re all there for the same reason. You get to play the games you’ve bought, or games you want to play that someone else has brought, and you know that the people you’re playing with are going to treat the gaming in the same spirit you are. It’s not like playing video games online, which is sociable in its own way. Before I got into this, I was playing World of Warcraft. While I made some actual friends there, and I’m still in touch with them, and it was sociable, it’s still not the same as a bunch of folks sitting around the table sharing a laugh over a gag that you had to be there for…

  1. What games do your group have a soft spot for?

We are pretty inclined towards shiny and new, and with several fairly voracious collectors among us, there’s a steady supply. We do a BGG geek list every month with our own ‘most played’ and ‘most epic’ game of the month. Splendor has been very hot for the last six months or so. But some games have never been far from the tables, like Game of Thrones, Eclipse, Mage Knight, Ankh-Morpork, Chaos in the Old World, Dungeon Lords, Lancaster, or Mare Nostrum. We’re in the middle of a Twilight Struggle league right now, actually. I guess if there’s a game we have a certain affection for it’d be Twilight Imperium, the old grand dame that doesn’t get played that often, but has generated some great stories over the years. And of course there’s Heroscape, the greatest toybox in modern gaming, which comes out every Christmas for an epic child-friendly and later adult all-night session. Likewise Arkham Horror gets a spin around Halloween and/or Gaelcon. Also, different people are into different particular games, and would play them away in a closed session, like block wargames, or even a little RPG action. We’ve made a few stabs at campaign play in things like Pathfinder the card game and Imperial Assault. But I guess all that comes under ‘shiny’, right?


  1. How do you recruit members for your group?

We’re on a couple of web sites and groups. Our main site is currently hosted by Big Tent, which is a US based group hosting service. We attend the cons with our little signs letting people know what we’re about. We get traffic via BGG and word of mouth: friends of members, families, etc. We have a process for acceptance, which is only fair given the fact we’re in family homes, not public venues, so we like to invite people along to an initial game and see how we all get on. This is that personality fit thing I mentioned. It’s very rare that someone is actually turned away, but again, you know pretty quickly when you meet us if you’re going to enjoy gaming with us, so it’s a mutual thing.

  1. If someone wanted to start a regular gaming group what would you recommend?

Consistency is the key. You need to meet regularly, and so have at least a core group of people that you are certain will be around. Jimmy, Niall, and I have been doing this for about eight years now, and in all that time at least one of us has hosted something almost every week. I think it’s important that your members know that kind of stability is there. Now, life is life, and we’ve had to cope with various family logistics over time, and we have members that are very keen to invite people to their homes as well, and that’s absolutely great. But equally we have some members that we see only very occasionally, and they’re welcome every time. We only ask that you stay in touch, and respond to the annual clean-up email if you’re still interested at all. Again, the point is we have that centre to organise that, and you build a group on that, and then build layers of craic around it. Like I said, people should feel welcome and comfortable, and when the ground is solid, it’s a lot easier to feel that way. You have to be a good host, and though you have ground rules (no crisps!!!! ;)), you need to be able to respond to the different members’ preferences and needs, while also having fun yourself. The bottom line is, as I said, we’re all gamers, and we all want to enjoy ourselves. That should never come at anyone’s expense, so being sensitive is part of it. So is having the piss taken out if you, of course. We’ve all been there. I roll ones, by the way, and there’s a zone of chaos around me where probability ceases to obey the laws. Ask me sometime about the game of Relic where everyone at the table was both astonished and in fits of laughter. Look: the bottom line is if you want to build a gaming group, you’re going to want to make it so people will want to keep coming back and more people will come. Be organised but open, welcoming but attentive, and above all PLAY! Like yourself at Knavecon, Vic, you have to get away from the desk and hit the tables, right?

Dr. Harvey O’Brien

Film Studies

Dr. Harvey O’Brien
Film Studies




A lot of you will know Ronan the proprietor of Dungeons and Donuts in Galway.  He’s organizing a 24-hour Game-a-thon in the shop in Galway on the 17th October here’s why…

“This is going to be an event to raise money for cancer care west, where a bunch of volunteer gamers will attempt to keep games running in the store for 24 hours from 12pm of the 17th to 12pm on the 18th. Everybody knows someone who has been affected with cancer and this summer gone I was directly affected, as my amazing wife was told she had cancer. That is why we raised money at the last pre-release (almost €1200) and that’s why we are running this 24 hour GAME-A-THON!! Cancer care west are an amazing organisation and any help we can give them will mean a lot to them and all the cancer patients they help.”


I think this is something as gamers we can all get behind.  Knavecon and Brocon are sending on prizes for the event and it’s now being shouted from the roof tops.  So spread the word, get involved


TEL: 091 567930

Happy 4 – Role Playing

Beauty is in the eye

Len O’Grady is an artist, colourists, comic book artist and dedicated gamer. Among other things he works at every child’s dream job, “colouring in” and is more than capable of doing it in between the lines. I couldn’t even tell you half the stuff he’s worked on so just take a trip over to his website and have a look for yourself. The guys good. BTW the article on Cypher a week back featured some exclusive art from a number of years back (16) he did for me at a games con.


Anyhoe on top of this Len is a dedicated role player and I caught up with him (online) to ask him to tell the nice people at home what it’s all about and why he obviously loves it.  He was good enough to take the time to answer some of my questions and send me on some of his tasty art work.

Role playing, what’s that all about?

Role playing games, as the name suggests, is a story telling game where a group of players take on the personas of characters and have adventures set for them by one special player, a narrator if you will, called the GamesMaster. The most well known game of this type is Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, but if you’ve ever played a fantasy game like World of Warcraft or Skyrim on a console or PC, you’ve played an RPG with a machine as GamesMaster. The rules of a game like this define the basic parameters of the world the players will inhabit, with dice providing the random element. Players can be a Wizard like Gandalf, a Vampire Hunter like Van Helsing or a Gangster like Tony Soprano, depending on the genre and type of game you all want to play. It all comes down to a group of friends hanging out, eating pizza and throwing some dice about while telling each other a story


How did you get involved in gaming?

Well, I was around twelve, and had just devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was given my first Fighting Fantasy book- it was basically a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure solo game books where you flip around numbered paragraphs and try and get to the end without meeting a gruesome fate. Fighting Fantasy was a bit different in that they had a very simple game mechanic that allowed to to fight monsters, gain treasures and magic artifacts- you were interacting with the story. You have to remember that this was rural Ireland in 1984- no one I knew had anything beyond a Sinclair, so this was a revelation. I’d seen copies of Dungeons and Dragons in the Toy Shop in the Crescent Shopping Centre, but hadn’t paid them any mind- the concept was just outside my experience and the books were way too expensive. It wasn’t until Corgi Books brought out an RPG called Dragon Warriors that things really took off, once I got my head around the concept that you could make a story for your friends, that was it. I think we met a few months later when a Games Club was launched in Limerick. I set up my own group out of my English Class in the Crescent every Wednesday afternoon, playing in Middle Earth, Arthurian Britain, and a Horror game called Call of Cthulhu. Luckily for us, Ireland mostly missed out entirely on the “D&D is a form of Satanism” furore that swept the US, spearheaded by religious zealots and various prigs. As time has proven, all their various claims have proved to be utterly false, and more often then not based in demagoguery and the desire to make a quick buck from rubes.


What is it you enjoy so much about role playing?

It’s the social aspect- you get to immerse yourself in a world of the shared imaginations of your friends and create memories as vivid as any you actually experienced. There’s an element of the oral tradition, that need to share a really good yarn with others around a campfire. You get to be take on another persona, solve problems, employ strategies and deal with social situations. I’ve seen deeply shy, introverted kids just blossom, learn useful social skills and sharpen their numeracy and literacy. I’ve seen kids avoid going down some dark paths and make bad choices by gaining a love of reading and history while creating adventures for their pals. Now the kids I played with have kids of their own and are rediscovering the hobby again with fresh eyes. It’s a hobby of imagination, so by definition it’s not passive, it’s powered by participation, is fired by quick thinking. At it’s best, it makes better people.

If you could pick one rules system what would it be?

Okay, that’s tough- games go through fashions and fads as much as any cultural phenomenon, but if you were to press me, I’d have to go for the Top Two: Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. Both offer excellent introductions to the games, though I’d have to admit that Pathfinder’s Beginner Box noses ahead by dint of the wealth of material it offers- there’s literally months of games in there. Now, if you were to ask me what my favorite Rules System is, that’ll be Castle Falkenstein- a Victorian Fantasy Game that’s a cross between The Prisoner of Zenda and The Princess Bride. Players create little journals where they keep their characters, and play with decks of playing cards with each suit representing a facet of the character (dice are disreputable, the province of foreigners and scurrilous ne’r do wells). You get to play dashing Hussars, Mad Scientists, Sidhe Ladies and more, all while chewing up the scenery and twirling mustaches- it’s immense fun you’d be amazed by the one-liners people can come up with.


What’s the most memorable event in a game you’ve played?

Now you’re fishing- I could talk of Tayto, the Ogre Slaying Mage and his misadventure with a shape changing Mimic, but no one needs to hear about that. To be honest, there was a game I ran with Dave Stafford out of my flat in Rathgar in the late nineties- the party got split into to groups- and God bless him, Dave took over and ran both groups at once, jumping from scene to scene with a fifteen minute timer, ala. The Empire Strikes back. It was insane- during our fifteen minutes off, we discussed how to handle our dilemmas, so had no clue what was happening to our friends half a continent away. Then the timer went beep and it was on like Donkey Kong. Things got seriously epic by the end- we saved a kingdom from being destroyed from within by brain devouring psychic monsters and our friends defeated an vast supernatural army led by giant cannibal hags; and there was excellent chinese food. One of our friends was completely new to the hobby, and his wife later told us that he used to dream about his character having adventures- it just gave a massive adrenaline shot to his imagination, and that’s hugely gratifying.

In the age of high technology do you think roleplaying still has an audience?

Oh, absolutely- the age of austerity has raised all boats when it comes to tabletop games, and RPGs are no exception. A console game runs to about fifty quid- you get maybe a few weeks out of it and then it’s on the shelf or down to the shop for a pretty poor trade in. I have games I’ve run and played since I was a teenager- you just need the rulebook, some dice, pencils and paper, and you’re good to go. Everything else, the playmats, the miniatures, the other supplements, these are entirely optional; what matters is the human interaction- that’s the engine that runs a role playing game. Every option available in a console game has been anticipated by it’s designers, so by definition is limited. Pen and paper RPGs have no such restrictions- being a GamesMaster means being able to roll with the zany left field stuff your players throw at you- that’s where some real exciting stuff happens- utterly unrepeatable but unforgettable. I just have to say to you- Mersen the Bard, seducing the barmaid- and Wham! you’re right back there with me, even though that game we played is about twenty five years ago. That’s something technology is going to be hard pressed to emulate, that sense of a shared experience crystallized in the mind’s eye.


What would you recommend to people who want to start Roleplaying?

Baby steps- if you’ve played console games like Skyrim or even Zelda you’re already half way there. The cartoon Adventure Time had D&D in it’s DNA, and Dan Harmon, has had a few great D&D episodes in his show Community.

The best thing is just how easy it is to start playing now- Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of D&D, offers the basic rules for FREE. It’s bare bones and without all the flavor text and copyrighted material, but it’s all there for players. On top of that, Wizards is in the process of rereleasing their back catalogue digitally and at a very reasonable price, so if you’re returning to the hobby, you can pick up your iPad and get cracking. If D&D isn’t your thing, DriveThru RPG offers other genres and game systems, many for free and covering all ages, from very small kids to old veterans.

So pick up a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set and remember what the hobby’s creator, Gary Gygax said;
The secret we should never let the GameMasters know is that they don’t need any rules”. Just play it through and expect to get better next time. Take a look at this comic based around a weekly session of D&D- it gives a pretty good flavor of a typical game

A phenomenon that’s popped up over the past decade is that of games being recorded for Podcasts or for sites like Twitch. The better ones are:
Critical Role
Nerd Poker
The Adventure Zone
and the granddaddy of them all that Wizards of the Coast put on: Acquisitions Inc.
Apart from Titansgrave, these have varying degrees of adult language and themes, so check them out before passing them your kids

Don’t worry about getting everything right or being self conscious- concentrate on having fun and making sure your friends have fun too- it’s a game with no “winners”, the winners get to survive for the next adventure and watch their characters become more heroic and powerful- maybe become legends themselves. it’s really just cops and robbers with an actual plot and a mechanic to say when you’re dead- don’t sweat it and have fun.
Thanks Len.


Happy 3 – Kids


In a continuation of our series on why we love gaming, I’m looking at gaming with your children.

Borys Zabinski is a gamer, blogger and manager of the kids corner at Knavecon and Knavekids.  He’s a regular gamer at our Thur night gaming sessions and can be relied upon to pull out some weird and often wonderful Polish boardgame we’ve never seen before with a name only he can pronounce.  He has a great knack for engaging younger gamers and I caught up with Borys and asked him a few questions on gaming from a family point of view

  1. Borys, what was gaming like for you as a kid?

Just to give a little background: as a kid I was living in communist Poland in little town – there were no boardgames in early 80’s apart from Ludo (which was and still is called ‘Chinese’) and one really big hit: it was Monopoly clone called Eurobusiness. If you ask any Polish person in age bracket 35-45 to name his/her first boardgame, probably 90% will tell you it was Eurobusiness ;).  In late 80’s few more boardgames were available with some Polish companies freely copying Western games like Talisman (called ‘Magic and Sword’) – nobody cared about copyrights those days. Some of those games were really big sellers with total prints of over 40 thousands per print! With limited access to computer games anything that had ‘game’ in title and looked like it was designed in (rotten) West was big hit and we played those games all the time. I am sure I have played Eurobusiness over 100 times…

  1. Did your family have an interest in gaming?

My parents have absolutely no interest in gaming at all 😉 Except for Eurobusiness (which I think they have played over 50 times). This in mind I have to say that I have found my father’s Snake and Ladders published before WW2 😉 (must still be somewhere in the attic in Poland). They would consider games as childish even these days.

  1. What benefits do you think gaming has for children?

I like to say educational but everything in life for kids is educational. Main benefit is entertainment and fun. I am all about having fun while playing games, other things like maths skills, reading skills, ability to think ahead etc. are there anyway and we all know about those ;). I am always trying to pass few interesting facts about game’s theme we play (be it videogames history if we play Boss Monster, geography and history facts if we play Tigris & Euphrates or who is Mi-go if we have a quick session of Eldritch Horror 😉 ).


  1. What type of games do you think kids like?

Different kids like different games. I have three kids, each one different character. My two boys age 9 and 6 really like negative interaction and love to do bad things in games to their parents, problem is when they are a target. Daniel (9) really hates coop games, he likes to play and make decisions himself. Robert (6) is OK with coop and see no problem working together to win (and share a win!). Maja (4) hates any type of negative interaction in games or even any type of violence in games. Every family need to try few games and see what they like.

  1. What age do you think kids should start gaming at?

As early as possible. Give them games to play with components. Let them punch tokens when you have new game. Show them cards. Play simplified rules, even play full rules for round or two (I have tried Through the Ages with Daniel when he was 6). Do all of this and you will have 24/7 gaming partner in 10 to 15 years! (well, unless you introduce them to Minecraft…)


  1. How do you deal with kids of different ages and abilities all playing the one game?

ou just need to find a game that will fit everyone (even adults). Game like this would be famous Turtles game. Of course sometimes this is not possible and I try to simplify rules to fit youngest but still keep it interesting for rest of the group. Other option is just play with youngest and let him/her move pieces or roll dice – for 3 or 4 year old that would still be great fun (at least for those 5-10 minutes 😉 )

  1. What is it you enjoy so much about gaming?

I love videogames (as any other gaming in general) but recently moved into boardgames ‘full time’. I love the real multiplayer aspect where you see all of the opponents, love those ‘in your face’ moments or back stabbing 😉 I like playing with kids as well but this is different as you need more patience, sometimes you need to let them win, sometimes it can be real pain in the ass (yes!) but in the end it’s very enjoyable experience (especially when you can see their progress).

  1. What would you recommend to a family who wanted to start gaming with their kids?

First of all I would recommend to attend Knavecon or Knavekids where you can check different games to see which one suits your kids gaming style. Cooperative games are also safe choice as you do not play against each other and allows younger kids to participate in play and share win – Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert are very good and easy to learn games with great theme. I like a little bit more of randomness while playing with kids as this will give them more chances to win – dice games like Zombie Dice are great example here and have proven to be perfect gateway games at previous Knavecons. If your kids love storytelling and have great imagination than Dixit or Story Cubes (there are many different versions) will be perfect – some of Dixit sessions with kids are amongst best we have ever played. Do you think your kids are more into maths, analysing, bluffing? Try some of Reiner Knizia designs, these might be out of theme and a little bit dry but I think some of his smaller games are amongst best kiddies games – Turtles (aka Ribbit), Bucket Brigade, Bee Alert and many more. Again, Knavecon and Knavekids are best places to go to check what your kids like or dislike, start easy with small and quick games and build you library introducing more complex games over a time.


Limerick Gaming Blog

Throwback Tuesday


I’m going to go back to a time long past. Imagine what you’re looking at going all uniformly wavy and wobbly and someone pressing one key on a Casio and BOOM you’re back to a time when games were broken, we had no sense and it rained a lot. (an earlier version of now)

Welcome to the 80s where we didn’t realize we were underprivileged until someone said it twenty years later. This was back when Games Workshop wrote games and we’d watch any old shite on TV If it had the whiff of Sci-Fi. about it. But enough of that the game I’m going to talk about is

Block mania

Block mania was a magnificent Judge Dredd story in 2000AD. If any of this sounds unfamiliar you owe it to yourself to read these progs. If you’ve read them already you won’t have forgotten them.

Short version. Two skyscrapers (blocks) full of drug crazed inhabitants are going to knock seven shades out of each other with whatever they can lay their hands on. The game will end when one building collapses or the judges (police) arrive and end the party.


Before that happens you’re going to roll up action points (Like it’s 1999) and activate your raging citizens and get them firing missiles, detonating demo charges, manhandling vibro drills and causing mayhem mega city 1 style.

The game now is old and possibly a bit moldy like a lot of old cardboard games. This is a game that’s played for theme and nostalgia, it’s a fun novelty cocktail game not to be taken seriously (like every other game). If you’re a fan of Dredd you’ll be in Mega City heaven. There’s a generous pinch of luck in this game but it doesn’t detract from its working

GW released an expansion for it called Mega Mania which allows four players, each with their own block to fight it out. Be warned adding more players can turn a quick game into a LONG game.

This game has odles of charm. Unlike a number of other games of the era it’s not just a re-skinned version of something else. There’s a lot of fun to be had here and to my knowledge it’s a pretty unique game. It wouldn’t hold up against a modern game as we’ve come to expect a lot of standards in modern board games but then again they’ve had 30 years of time to mature and improve.


I’ve been lucky enough to play it a few times over the years, well decades and it always brings a smile to my face  (more so, if I collapse someones building)

As it stands BM is a unique, fun game thats definitely worth playing at least once and a fine throwback to some of the better games of the 80s



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