Important Stuff

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Discussion - Inclusion

Mr. Laubersheimer's off in the pursuit of his own mysterious errands this week, and he's been foolish enough to cede this slot to me in his absence. I'd been planning to do a little something about rules bloat, maybe, or perhaps edition warfare, but honestly? Everyone and their dog has some perspective on how we should deal with WFB 8, sixth edition 40K or D&D Next, and I don't see that adding another leaf to the storms in any of those particular teacups is going to do my nerves or your electronic earholes any good whatsoever. Then Sunday's HoP Idol post happened, and now I'm coming over all Gaming Curriculum, so I suppose that means it's time to talk about a teacher word.


Monday, June 18, 2012

HoP Idol II: Hobby + Kids

Today's entry from our HoP Idol contestants comes from Doc Brian of "The Family that Slays Together."  Here is a blogger who is offering us a rarely seen perspective.  

I’m not going to post a bunch of statistics.  You’ve probably already seen the numbers touting that kids who interact with their parents or other role models are more likely to stay out of trouble.  Sure, I get involved in their soccer games and ballet recitals.  I kick the ball around while tiptoeing about in my ballet shoes and tutu…

Did I actually type that last part?

Um, let’s just say I try to stay involved and leave it at that. 

Despite my efforts, I always feel like I could be doing better, especially when I’m indulging in my own hobbies.  So, if we’re already spending time with toys, why not kill two birds with one stone?  Why not get them involved in what we do?

So how do we get our kids (or nephews and nieces, annoying little brothers, that neighborhood kid who is always hanging out in your yard) involved in our hobby?  If your kids (or nephews and nieces…


New Member Monday - On A Jetplane

Hello everyone and welcome to what should prove to be an exciting week of HoP Idol goodness that should continue on for a nice chunk of time.  It's real, live blogging entertainment!

By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to short visit to Illinois for undisclosed purposes and I'll be traveling by, you guessed it, passenger jet.  Unfortunately, I did not know that the song I referenced in the post title was by John Denver until just this very moment.  Not to be confused with Bob Denver who played Gilligan on an island of the same name.  Anywho John up there died in a plane crash.  So probably not the best reference in any measurable way.

I had grand intentions to find a snazzy cover of Leaving on a Jet Plane, but all I could find was a bunch of slow soulful, acoustic guitar bullshit.  Mostly but what appear to be indie rock chicks.  By Unholy Krondor do I hate indie rock.  So here's this tangentially related song instead as it occurs to me that I should have just started over with the post at this point.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

HoP Idol II: Premeasure

Hey Ya'll, after missing a beat yesterday due to scheduling constraints with my crappy life, we're back up and running with a fantastic article from our next HoP Idol contestant- Gartenzing from "Gaming all Areas."  Hope you enjoy.

Pre-Measuring: Better or Worse?

Hi all,

Gartenzing here, the writer on Gaming All Areas- it’s a relatively new Blog, but one which I
hope provokes a little thought for the people reading it. For HoP, I’d like to touch on a topic
which has been discussed over the last few months- Pre-measuring.

This has become a bit of a hot topic due to the 40K 6th Ed rumours. Whether it’s coming to
40K or not (at time of writing, the rules haven’t been released), Games Workshop has been
slowly making the movement to pre-measuring for a little while- Lord of the Rings uses it, as
does Fantasy as of 8th Ed. I firmly believe this is a good thing.


[Musings of a Game Store Owner] Doing it Right

There ARE companies that are doing it right. There are businesses out there that Have A Clue (TM) and are using their talents, abilities, sense and acumen to build strong relationships with retailers to grow their customer base.

We have relationships with a few companies that are really "working it" and taking proactive steps to build, strengthen and encourage the gamer community. They're doing things like visiting stores, taking pictures, promoting games, trading blog links and talking to owners about keeping customers satisfied.

One of those businesses very recently gave us a pretty nice bonus in an effort to gain more of OUR business. The idea was that if they made doing business with them easier, nicer, and with a better profit point, we would trade much of our business over to them as an entity. They understood that communication and treating my shop with respect and consideration are key points for earning my business, and work hard to treat all stores they deal with in those ways.

Other businesses pay attention to their product releases and give details far in advance- sometimes as long as 6 months notice for a big release. A great example is WoTC. I've known when releases are coming out for them for pretty much the whole calendar since about February. I might not know specific DATES immediately, but some official communication was given that "early May" and "mid July", we should expect new releases from them.

This is pretty handy information to have, because it allows us to have MONEY to buy the "new hotness" that our customers desire so much. TheDude and I know in advance not to make major purchases in those time frames, because we will be shelling out big bucks to buy enough product to keep up with the demand.

Somehow, WotC hasn't lost any business by telling their customers about release schedules, new projects (Return to Ravnica is happening, and customers are EXCITED) and actual timing of those events. In many cases, they are driving up sales by creating a hype and getting customers ready for the latest and greatest.

The expectations a retailer has about the way their vendor relationships work has a great deal to do with whether those relationships continue. I don't think it's too out of line to expect that I'll be afforded communication and cooperation in regards to new releases, scheduling and money out of my pocket. Some vendors treat those thoughts with respect, and others don't. I know that I'm not alone in thinking it might be time to re-evaluate certain alliances to see if they continue to be beneficial.

For us, as a business, emotion and nostalgia can only go so far; money has to be made as well. That's a tough place to be in when talking about building a community and offering "fun in a box", but it's a necessary choice to make to keep the lights on and customers coming in.

Because as much as I love relationships, I gotta pay the rent. Having partnerships that bring paying customers in the door is a benefit, and when I have those, I reward them by continuing to do business with them. Some businesses "get it", and in return, they get my cash.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

[Games Anatomy] - Savage Worlds

Thanks to all who gave the WoD post a shufty and made comment last week... especially Lo, for catching my lamentable error of letting one of my house rules sneak into the fray. This week, a system I have never run but always loved to play: Savage Worlds.

Savage Worlds is the win. If I had to choose one of my gaming books to keep, while everything else was swept into some sort of ravenous book-eating vortex never to see the light of day again, I'd choose Savage Worlds like a shot.


Friday, June 15, 2012

HoP Ido Il: Hedge-Raper 2000

Today's HoP Idol entry comes to us from Neil.  In addition to doing yardwork, he can also be found writing over at "The Dice Gods are Hungry."  Enjoy...

I recently bought a new power tool for ‘doing the gardening’ (yard work is the
equivalent for those of you across the pond from me, I think) called the Hedge-Raper
2000. This thing is dangerous, and not just to me! It tears chunks out of the hedges
and small tree branches with reckless abandon, bits of wood literally fly everywhere
and annoy my neighbours, who tut while picking bits of hedge off their cars.

In short, it kills green leafy shit. It can’t however take on anything more than a small


The Weekly Top X - Cats & Cowgirls from SinSynn and Loquacious

'She's late,' says the Hamster for the umpteenth time.

'I know,' I reply testily, 'you've made that abundantly clear. Why are you even HERE? This doesn't concern you.'

'Everything you do concerns me, buddeh. I live inside your head, remember?'

I sigh deeply.

'How did that ever happen, anyway,' I wonder aloud (for the umpteenth time, it should be noted), 'I'm positive you never signed a lease.'

'Don't worry yer pretty lil' head about it, darlin,'' the Hamster replies smugly, 'just hope Lo' comes through with the goods.'

'She said she'd be here...she'll be here,' I tell the Hamster, 'and she'll have the stuff. The good stuff.'


Thursday, June 14, 2012

HoP Idol II: Warma/hordes: The Move to Tournament Play

Here is the first entrant for this year's HoP Idol Competition.  These will be coming down through this weekend more or less in the order that we received them, so as not to play favorites and all that.  This one comes from nonother than Dok, whom you may recognize from his lurking around these parts or more likely from his contributions to "3 for Intelligence." ~dethtron

Warma/hordes: The move to tournament play

I’m a tournament player at heart and I would really like to make the jump onto the Warma/hordes tournament scene. So far I have got a couple games under my belt against some of my buddies and it seems like the games are taking a really long time. For example, I played a 30 point game that took an hour and a half! I am still learning the rules, so time isn't that big of a deal. Well, at least not yet… I have been in the same room as PP tournaments before and I have seen people play with their little stop clocks and that is intimidating the crap out of me right now!
So what does a man do to get faster at this game?
·         Is it just # of games played?
·         Familiarity with the units in your army?
·         Familiarity with the units in your opponent’s army?
·         Do I need to put points into celerity? I’m not even the right clan!
I’m sure it’s some combination of the above. Maybe it’s just been too long since I started playing 40k at a competitive level and I just don’t remember how long those first games of 5th edition were. I’m sure I’ll be remembering soon if 6th comes out!

What can I do to get that experience???

I’ve got a couple ideas!


HoP Idol Begins Today

The entries are in.  They have been great.

Starting later today, we'll begin running the short form essays from all of our applicants after announcing who is in the running.

2 of my personal idols- and a hilarious pic

Now here's the first twist (already, I know).  You won't be voting on anyone based on their short essay!  We're just going to post those as a "getting to know you" type of thing to familiarize you with the contestants and help get them some additional exposure.

Voting begins the week of 6/24 (or 24/6 if you're in one of those countries that's into that sort of thing) with our first round of challenges.  The candidates will receive instructions for this challenge some time this weekend.

....aaaaaaaaand on an unrelated note- I've got some shit up for sale on eBay.  Auctions end today, but if you're looking for some magic cards or other sundry items, please check out my auctions by following this link

A very slim portion of the proceeds of this will pay for the HoP URL for the next 3 years.  The rest of the proceeds will pay to replace my current laptop which is on the verge of melting down.... so will basically also help to allow the HoP to exist.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Talkin' GW, Talkin' 6th Edition Part 3- Cautiously Pessimistic

Link to Part 1
Link to Part 2

Hey folks, SinSynn here.

We have a date now!
Games Workshop broke their infamously stoic silence to officially announce the forthcoming release of Warhammer 40k 6th Edition last week. It's important to emphasize 'officially'  here, since this is the very first time GW has seen fit to give us any information regarding  40k 6th since the rumors and speculation began roughly a year ago.
A 27 second video featuring a flaming Aquila symbol and music from Codex Pictures (no chuckling, please, this is serious business. Keep it down to a snigger, or at most a chortle) finally gave us something real to latch on to:
23 - VI - 12
Despite the fact that the video makes no actual mention of 40k, I was able to piece together the truth with my keen Xenos mind (and a deeply involved Google search). Apparently, the two letters in between basketball legend Micheal Jordan's jersey number (23) and the last two digits reminding us of exactly how many inches are in a foot (12) are not really letters at all! They're actually some ancient Terran culture's method of expressing the numerical value of six in written form.
Oh, Games Workshop, you're so clever...I see what you did there.
But, we know, right? As they say:
*I would link the video, but this is more amusing*


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Discussion - Wait, what happened?

And were back with another wonderful, funderful Tuesday Discussion to get your collective brains limbered up for the rest of the week.  For this week's attempt at fostering discourse I'm going back to the Privateer Press well I was drawing metaphorical water from a fortnight ago.

As I've started to get into the swing of things with the MkII reboot, two things have hit me:

1) The MkII rules are so far and above MkI that pondering why anyone thought MkI was fun in the first place is breaking my brain.

2) Where the hell did all the fluff go?

The one thing that's actually disappointing me about all this fun I'm having is that the new army books just don't include any of the old action-adventure fiction that sucked me into the game in the first place.  So if I need a refresher on exactly what happened to Thagrosh between his prime and epic versions, I have to dig out all my old rule books.  The game has lost a lot of it's context in a sense.  Especially disconcerting when you pick up the newest expansions and there's a fat gob of new fiction right there.  A bit of a disconnect.

Obviously, this isn't more than a slight inconvenience for a book hoarder like myself.  But what about the new players?  There's a ton of cool story stuff that's just not being printed... for a game that is very much driven by said story.  Sure the veterans know all about what happened at the Castle of the Keys, but I can well imagine that it's more than a little frustrating to have to rely on word of mouth for the newer players.

So, questions for today (and remember, you don't have to answer all of them):

1) Is the missing MkI fluff actually a detriment to Warmachine/Hordes as a product?

2) How could Privateer Press go about making all the old back story available again?

3) Should Privateer Press make an effort to make the old fiction available again?


Monday, June 11, 2012

New Member Monday - 163rd Day of the Year

Yep.  That's June 11.  I had grand hopes that Wikipedia wouldn't let me down with this week's hair brained idea of a theme.  But alas, I was undone.  It turns out that being the 163rd day (162nd if it isn't a bisextile year like 2012) was the least depressing and least obscure thing on that list.  So there we are, another trip to the amazing world of facts is complete. And disappointing.

Speaking of facts, did you know that the House of Paincakes is completely and certifiably awesome?  It's true!  We're also the only blog network to be announcing four new member blogs on this, the 163rd day of 2012.

New Member Monday

Neil of Orange's Hobby Blog
Keywords: Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40k, Malifaux, painting and scenery

40kegger Tabletop Wargames Club
Keywords: Warhammer 40k, Gaming Club, Tournament, Beer, Winnipeg, Nerd Games, Check This Shit Out, Half Pints

Afterimagedan BFG Blog
Keywords: battlefleet gothic, space battle, BFG scenery, battle reports, Extreme Specificity

Roll of the Dice
Keywords: Wargaming, Rpgs, Painting, Rants, The hobby, Reviews, (not so) intelligent conversations with myself

No essay today since I feel that the fun facts in the beginning of this post are probably all the excitement you could handle right now.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

[Musings of a Game Store Owner] It Goes Both Ways

Running a Friendly Local Game Store involves a lot more than just sticking games on the shelf and hoping people buy things from me.

My business boils down to a long string of relationships. To be successful at what I do, relationships are essential. Inbound associations with vendors, suppliers and representatives are just as important as community building, employee interactions and customer service. Building strong ties on all fronts gives me flexibility, knowledge, the ability to be competent and someone my customers can count on for "the juice" of gaming goodies.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

[Games Anatomy] - the Storytelling System

A'right. This week, Games Anatomy takes a scalpel to the tasty, nourishing brain-meats of the Storytelling System, proprietary rules set of White Wolf, who make all those gothy games with colons in the titles that I love so much.

The Storytelling System derives its name from the title it foists on the Games Master. Dubbing this figure a Storyteller nails the system's credentials to the mast; this is a game that's devised for extended narrative play, not for a series of 'encounters' or 'modules' or even for an overall 'campaign' or anything as, well, gamey as that. These days I tend to think Storyteller brings to mind a middle-aged woman in a cardie, or possibly a man in tights with a mandolin who's come into the local primary school to support a lesson on mythology - I also happen to think the refereeing and rules-arbitrating parts of the GM role are as important as shepherding the emergent narrative, and so I prefer to call myself a GM. But it can't be denied that there's something compelling about renaming the role. It suggests the game's priorities very neatly, and there's nothing I like more than clearly apparent design principles.


Friday, June 8, 2012

The Weekly Top X - Signs and Portents

All right, ladies and gentlemen.  Here we are again at another Weekly Top X.  For those of you just now noticing this amazing service that the House of Paincakes provides FREE OF CHARGE, that's not Roman numeral X, but algebra X.

Luckily for you guys, you don't have to solve for X.  That's up to us.  Also, this:

The Weekly Top X

1) The family That Slays Together Stays Together - Axis & Allies? Maybe not yet
Doc Brian is a braver man than I for even thinking about playing Axis and Allies with his youngsters.  Let alone actually going through with it.  \

2) 3 for Intelligence - Holy crap, Archangel: legion of everblight gargantuan
Despite the self depreciating blog name, this blog is actually full of some dudes who are really on the ball. Dok here has posted up a quick review of the rumors from Privateer Press's recent Lock n' Load event.  He also manages to save you the trouble of going to Dakka.

3) Miscellaneous Miniatures - WAAAAGH! Attilus - Apocalypse Battle Report
I've always had a spot in my heart for Apocalypse battles.  I love the spectacle of the thing, really.  The size of the armies, the camaraderie and, most importantly, the beer drinking.  Reporting on something that big is a challenge and I think the guys over at Miscellaneous Miniatures have done a bang up job.

4) Gaming All Areas - 40K 6th Ed- Advance Thinking
It took a while, but I finally found some positive thinking on 6th edition.  Faith in humanity status:  bolstered.

5) Mind War FTW - Internet "Wisdom": Bolters Kill Vehicles!
Ahhhhh.  Good ol' TKE.  A highly technical post on why sounding smart on forums isn't the same as actually being smart.  Also with bonus Katy Perry sub-theme.  Leitmotif, maybe?  Am I even using that word right?  If not, then pretend I said schmetterling.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

HoP Idol II Entries Due Today

Well, the submissions have been pouring in over the last few days, that's for sure.  But, if you're one of those types who always waits until the last day to get anything done- well this is quite literally the last day!

If you were planning on joining in this contest, make sure you get your teaser article in to us by the end of Thursday (in whatever time zone you happen to find yourself in).  Hell, if you're feeling the crunch, you could even make a mad dash across the Euro Zone, jockeying for the most favorable time zone you can find.

Oh Vietnam, your Idols are Great!!

The directions for entering the contest can be found HERE.  There's really no need to reprint them for a 3rd time, now is there?

That's it for now.  Get to work on your entries, you have scant hours left.

I'm off to undercoat some Tiger IEs for a super secret new column I'll be bringing you shortly.  Well that and a game I've got coming up on Sunday.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Talkin' GW, Talkin' 6th Edition, Part Two- Evolution

Hey folks, SinSynn here.

In Part One, we covered GW's history, and we know that they'll be releasing 6th Edition into a very crowded marketplace, so now it's time to think about the future.
What will 40k 6th Edition bring, and where is GW going?

*Lemme grab my crystal ball*


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Discussion Tuesday - Dungeons and Dragons and Pop Culture

All right, everyone!  It's another discussion for another Tuesday.  For those of you just tuning in, this means I will be making a claim of some sort that will undoubtedly lie somewhere between 'spurious' and 'shaky' on the continuum of validity.  Your job as is to respond to that as part of a much larger and civil discourse.  Opinions are shared, stories are told and we all learn how to love again.

Today's topic is actually inspired by some of the tangents Frontline Gamer and I explored during our hitherto unfinished Tea and Biscuits series. The central idea of one of these side conversations is that table top wargaming just hasn't caught on in American to the same scale as it has in Europe (the UK in particular).  An american goes into a hobby store and we're lucky if they stock both kinds of game (PP and GW).  


Monday, June 4, 2012

New Member Monday - 18 Minutes of Fame

Welcome back to Monday, everybody!  It's not the happiest thing in the world to celebrate, but... at least your face didn't get eaten off by another human being.  Yet another reason to stay the hell away from what many have called 'America's Wang'.  Or Florida to those of you that live there (sorry).

Definitely could be used a marital aid.
So, yeah.  Things could be worse.  But they can also be better!  Which is why we're bringing you today's New Member Monday instead of more information on the horrible, drug fueled insanity that gives Miami something else to be famous for besides a massive chicken infestation.  Totally not kidding about the chicken thing, btw.

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of strangeness and oddities, have you considered entering Hop Idol 2 yet?  You really should.

New Member Monday

The Dice Gods Are Hungry!
Keywords: Warhammer Fantasy, 40k, Hobby in General, Blood Bowl, Mordheim, Necromunda, Sports,
Essay: Are you the type of person who likes to read rants about finecast? Do you like half-formed opinions typed out in a slapdash fashion from an ill-informed mind? Do you like peanut M&M's? If any of these appeal to you, and if you can put up with English dialect and slang terms, a read of my brand spanking new ego-fuelled blog might amuse you. Or give you an opportunity to troll a complete blogging noob. Whatever floats your boat really.

The Family That Slays
Keywords: 40k, kids, Bloodbowl, Mordheim, random games that catch my fancy, diapers, playing on a budget
Essay:  I’ve got five kids ranging from age 13 down to a couple of weeks, and I’ve still managed to stay sane and play nicely with my toys. Heck, I’m so special I’ve even got a blog!

The Miniatures Man
Keywords: SF, fantasy, pulp, WWII, terrain, painting, battle reports, book reviews, more
Essay:  A bit of this and that from the world of miniatures gaming.

Miscellaneous Miniatures
Keywords: miniatures, 40k, warmachine, scratchbuild, table-top rpgs
Essay: We're not god's gift to the internet. We're a bunch of guys that play 40k and what-not. This blog is where we're starting to post pics of our mini's, projects, games, and anything else we find helpful to our hobbycraft. We love the hobby and think it's about damn time we got involved in the community.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

[Musings of a Game Store Owner] Clubs

So one of the posts from this week's Top X inspired my thoughts for today. I thought I'd talk a little bit about how things have changed over the years.

When I got introduced to gaming, it was through a club. Most of the clubs were run by the university, and everyone in them were affiliated with the university in some way, or knew someone who was. If you were a longtime local that liked games, it was a very long and tough thing to get introduced to strategic or tabletop games in anyway. At the time I started, there weren't really anything even close to "game stores". There was a comic book store that "sold" games, but it was halfhearted at best, and you had to special order, and you certainly couldn't PLAY there.

Even going to the comic shops was a whole lot different. While comics were definitely "geeky", being a gamer got you labeled "weird", "nerdy" or "a dweeb". There was a definite stigma to being "one of those guys" in those stores.

Ordering books was a whole different animal, too. Most of the time, you had to put an order in and wait for the guy to get together enough orders for free shipping. Sometimes, that was a few days and other times it was weeks.

Being in a club was an interesting affair. Dues and funds were used to put on shows, much like the ones we see across the pond these days. Members had specific talents, and shared them with each other to better the status of the hobby. Often, the shows were giant episodes of "show and tell", with members and friends enjoying each other's handiwork and growing the hobby together.

Today, things are different. FLGS are more and more common, with places like Titan Games as giant playgrounds for the geeky kind. D&D and Settlers of Cataan are featured prominently on popular TV shows like Big Bang Theory.  The nerds are no longer irrelevant, and are power players in the economy of past times.

That's what has happened in the US. I don't know enough about the UK to say if their situation will change or be different, but I'd love to learn.

I'd really like to do an interactive series, talking about the state of affairs in the UK and how clubs impact the hobby scene. I'd also like to see what might be possible for the development of FLGS and other nerdy places that way. Please chime in with thoughts, ideas, and questions, and I'll see what I can bring about in conversation.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

[Games Anatomy] - the d20 system

The d20 System is, in essence, the gribbly innards of third edition Dungeons and Dragons; the basic mechanics, shorn of all the setting elements. This means it has most of the classical trappings of the RPG - the idea that your character has statistics (which express how good they are at doing stuff), is a member of a class (which determines what skills they have easiest access to, i.e. what stuff they're best at), and has that many levels of experience (which make them better at doing stuff), and so many hit points (which are what they lose when something does stuff to them) and so on and so forth.

What it doesn't have, in and of itself, is much else. It's basically a series of mechanics, which are quite bare-bones but also quite granular, offering a detailed representation of exactly what your character is good at, and an attempt to customise the classes so that your twelfth level wizard is mechanically distinct from my twelfth level wizard.

The whole system turns around the rolling of a twenty-sided die to determine the success of a character's action - hence the name. Damn near everything in the game uses the same core mechanic; you roll a d20, add modifiers based on your character's statistics and skills, and compare that to a target number. That might be a Difficulty Check set by the GM (for those moments where you're doing stuff to the environment) or the Armour Class or opposed roll of a monster, character, other player character (for when you're doing stuff to things that don't want stuff done to them).

At its heart, it's consistent in that high numbers are always good, it's elegant in that everything runs off the same basic rule, and it's not terribly hard to grasp. The devil with d20 is in the details. So. Many. Details.

Something beautiful and elegant is about to be ruined.

See, your character has skills, and access to those skills is governed by the class your character belongs to. But someone pointed out that it's not strictly fair to say that their twelfth level wizard can't be good at swimming just because that's not a class skill for him. If he wants to make the effort, he should be able to do that. So there are cross-class skills, and rules restricting the rate of growth in them to keep the class skills attractive.

And then there are feats. Insofar as I can work out why feats exist, it goes something like this. At the start of yr. average D&D game, wizards are a bit poo. They're basically four squashy hit points in a dress with only two magic missiles per day and a big stick to defend themselves with. Fighters, meanwhile, have twice or thrice the hit points, bogart all the armour, and can use pretty much any weapon they like. So, wouldn't it be cool if my first level wizard could, I don't know, use a better weapon, like a crossbow or something, or maybe if he could wear armour and still cast spells, just to make things a bit more... what's the word... balanced, in those early stages? So I can pick a 'feat' for my wizard, when I first create him, and another one every few levels.

Hang on, though. After a certain point, fighters get really boring. The expression is 'linear fighter, quadratic wizard'. Fighters get better at fighting, to be sure, but wizards get to the point where they can call down a choking fog that kills pretty much everything in the room before the fighter's finished getting his sword out. So fighters get more feats than wizards do, essentially giving them some wild and crazy combat options like running through the room whacking EVERYONE with their sword at the speed of evil. Except... that puts us back into the 'fighters are cooler than wizards at low levels' corner... so what we do is, we make all the good fighter feats dependent on taking X, Y and Z boring fighter feats at low level, so that they can't get access to the good stuff until they've got to the levels where they need it.

All in the name of balance, of course. And all this stuff needs rules. Well... it sort of does. See, in a system without hard and fast rules for how you run through a room hitting everyone in it with a sword while trying not to get hit back, and do it all at the speed of evil, it's down to the GM to work out how that should be done (myself, I'd say a -1 hit penalty for every opponent after the first, and as soon as you miss one, you get hit, but that's me). And you can't always rely on the GM to do that, because some GMs are cruel and some are inexperienced and some just like having rules for things so that they don't have to do the developer's job for them. The d20 system is brilliant for that sort of GM. It basically insulates the players and GM from bad decisions, whether malicious or rooted in inexperience, because chances are, whatever it is you're trying to do, the system has a rule for it.


The downside, of course, is that it's a rules lawyer's dream. There's a rule for everything, and those rules exist to protect the GM from having to call everything and the players from bad GM calls, so why not insist on them being followed to the letter?

The other downside is that it's a pain in the ass to make character choices. Let me give you an example. I'm playing a Fighter, and as I've levelled this Fighter up, I've not rolled very well for his hit points, so he's looking a bit weedy for a supposed frontline combatant. So I decide to take the Toughness feat, which hands out three extra hit points per level, and beefs my Fighter up a bit. Fair enough. Except I only get so many feats to choose from, and I want to be contributing something at level 12, and I need to take these three boring filler feats to get that interesting one there, and can I afford to interrupt that just to get Toughness, or should I take Dodge and just soldier on? I'm sitting here fretting when I could just add another die's worth of hit points, another pip on my attack bonus, and trust the GM to come up with a ruling for whacking everyone in the room if I really want to.

To be fair, some versions of the d20 system are better for this than others. d20 Cthulhu's moderately restrained, for instance - the classes in that one only govern access to skills, and so there's no need for the elaborate system of checks, balances and filler in the feats system, so that's stripped down as well. Star Wars d20, meanwhile, is a bit of a bugger, with different creation mechanics for droid and organic characters, and all the paraphenalia of the Force to keep track of, and the added twist that you have a class that's basically a fighter and a wizard and so is basically cooler than everyone and so needs to be kept in check somehow so everyone else feels like they're useful... Oh, and if I didn't mention it before, the d20 system tended to attract writers with a serious case of logorrhea, and so everything has descriptive text sitting around it, of a quite long-winded nature.

The result is a system with a lot of stuff in it and a lot of words describing that stuff, and a basically elegant mechanic which is occluded by all this... bumpf. That said, if you like your RPGs to be balanced, and have consistent rules for everything, or if you like build optimisation and loophole-hunting, go to it and good luck - it's not the worst game out there and its heart is in the right place. If you'd rather make it up as you go along and get on with the story, and not be penalised in ten levels' time because you took Toughness instead of Dodge, try Swords and Wizardry instead.


Friday, June 1, 2012

The Weekly Top X- Holy Hobby!

So El Jeffe (Lauby to those who are not in the know) decided he needed a break. Maybe he is off paying attention to SpecialLadyFriend, or maybe he took a road trip to get himself a bottle (or ten) of Thomas Tew rum. Maybe, just maybe, he's off doing some HOBBY stuff.

I know he loves him some hobby. So do I.

Despite Von's accusations that I "like writing about RPGs", I have other interests.

I figured cheesecake shots of dudes would not go over well here. 


Thursday, May 31, 2012

HoP Idol II- Send us your Audition.... Tapes?

Greetings HoPateers!  As you'll no doubt recall, we're deep into week one of accepting audition articles for the 2nd Annual (maybe it is, who knows?) HoP Idol contest. 

We've seen a smattering of submissions so far and are excited about the candidates who are in the running to date.  BUUUUTTT..... we want more.  You've got another week to meet our submission deadline, so don't delay.  We know you're all holding off to the last possible second to send in your article, crafting it so that each of those 500 words or less is absolutely perfect, but don't miss the deadline.  Lauby and I might cry if you do.  Plus you'll be kicking yourself if you did.  You'll have a blast in the contest.

Don't believe me?  See what last year's winner, Von, had to say about the contest: "I had a blast and dethtron totally didn't make this quote up without my permission.  I heartily endorse this product or service."

Here's a recap of the rules.  The winner of this multi-week (length TBD) contest wins a permanent weekly on the HoP Blog.  Hurry while supplies last!

  1. Write an article of up to 500 words that you think clearly represents your style and viewpoint.  There are no restrictions on topic, so feel free to send us a news report, battle report, tactics article, painting/modeling tutorial, or whatevs.  All we care about is that it is about tabletop gaming/ roleplaying and that it's short enough that we can quickly read them and potentially publish them quickly.
  2. Do not publish the article created for step 1 on your own blog.  All content for the HoP Idol contest is to be considered exclusive to the HoP without written permission.  We will link every article back to your blog (if you have one) every time we publish and you're welcome to link to the articles on the HoP, so you will see a traffic increase just for participating.
  3. Send your article to .  Make sure that the subject line includes "HoP Idol entry."
  4. The article may be attached as a word or text document in html format or embedded into the body of an e-mail.  You may include up to one picture in your article which must be either attached to your e-mail or otherwise embedded in your article.  
  5. The deadline for submitting your article is Thursday June 7.  We will beginning announcing contestants shortly thereafter.
  6. Questions can be sent to


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Talkin' GW, Talkin' 6th Edition, Part One- Now and Then.

Hey folks, SinSynn here.

So...6th Edition 40k, huh? Like next week, apparently, or sumpthin.'
Or if not next week, soon, cuz the rumors were that they were pulling 5th Edition off the shelves, and they have. I'm unsure of the exact scheduling, but I'm sure I'll hear rumors soon.

So...rumors, huh?
Rumors, speculation, hopes and wishes. The 500 pound gorilla of the mini gaming scene is returning, but what shape will the beloved, venerable beast be in when it arrives?
Yes, I said beloved, because I'd be lying if I said I didn't love the Grimdark.

*The one pointing is like, 'I hope that's not a Grey Knight!'*


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Discussion Tuesday - Conversions and Privateer Press

Hello everyone and welcome to another Tuesday discussion.  If you remember correctly, we've lost GMort to the vortex of real life - hopefully temporarily.  So, in place of the his usual brand of take-no-prisoners blogging, we're gonna have these little discussion threads while we romp through another HoP Idol.  Incidentally, where the hell is your entry?  For shame.

I'm new to this whole "write basic premise and then get people to comment thing' so bear with me.  Today's topic, for those of you who didn't read the title of this post, is all about Privateer Press and their tournament rules concerning conversions.


Monday, May 28, 2012

New Member Monday - Explosivo

Howdy, ya'll!  Just thought I'd open the post with a little American Idiom action to lull you into a false sense of relaxation before I get on to the business of blowing your minds.  Which will be a 3 step process.

Hitchcock needed 36 more steps to do what we about to.
1) The Return of Rip Steakface Von:  After some time off that involved a brief stint as a mixed martial artist (I'm assuming), Von is back on the HoP roster and ready to fill our our brain holes with more of his well missed brand of RPG erudition.  The first post on his new topic (as chosen by our intrepid readership) hit the news stand yesterday.  You should read it, by the way.  Future Von posts will resume on his regular Saturdays.

2) HoP Idol 2:  With the sudden departure of our old comrade in blogging, GMort, we've decided to move up our 2nd annual writing contest up a month.  For the time being it's called HoP Idol 2 and the details can be found here.  And don't feel bad if you didn't have the time to click on that link, you'll be reminded incessantly about this for days to come.

3) Blogs.  We had a ton of them this week and this last step is a 6 parter.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

[Games Anatomy] - Guess Who's Back?

As you walk south, the buildings appear more closely packed. Rows of high, narrow houses loom to either side of you. You can hear birdsong, somewhere, and there is a heavy smell in the air - either curry, industrial pollution on an unimagined scale, or dirty laundry. Possibly all three.

You come to a green space, bounded on all sides by a narrow road, with a knot of trees in the middle. Among the trees is a large cube, the colour of bone; a six-sided die, dropped perhaps from some celestial game and lost amidst the foliage. Atop the die sits a man with a beard. At your approach, he yawns, looks down from his perch, and intones in tones of remarkable smugness "Ah. There you are. I've got something to tell you."

Do you:
- turn back, certain you'll gain nothing of use from this oddball?
- press on, and see what he has to say?

art by Trampier


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Community Announcement - Headshots from the Heart is Now LIVE!

Hey cats and kittens, just a quick heads up this fine Saturday afternoon on the cool charity work by Dave G that you've been hearing all the buzz about.

Anywho, the live coverage started just a little bit ago (as I post this) and there's all kinds of cool updates and even some live video.

But that's not all!  No sir.  There's also the many and wonderous auctions that are going to be going up throughout the the next 24 hours.

You can find info a list of what kind of cool things you'll have a chance at here.  Though you'll have to go to the live stream page for the details on the when and how.

Good Luck to Dave and the gang!


Friday, May 25, 2012

The Weekly Top X - Raw Sexual Magnetism

Hello everyone and welcome to another House of Paincakes Weekly Top X!  With me as always are animated gifs of Kate Upton dancing.  Hi Kate!

Haha, right you are!  So... yeah.... that thing....  buuuuuuuuuh...

Wait....what were we talking about?

Something something Kate Upton.  No.  Before that.... something with counting...  Ah ha!  The Weekly Kate Upton!  Shit.  That's not it.  Though, note to self:  make that happen.

Ok, folks.  Go ahead and read these blogs while I figure this out.  Kate, take 5.

The Kate Upton Weekly Top X

1) Warpstone Flux - Battle Report: Blood Ravens vs. Chaos space marine
Battle reports with pictures are always great.  Battle reports with pictures of awesomely painted models are even better.  For those of you who didn't make the connection:  this battle report is chock full of pictures of awesomely painted models.  Full disclosure:  none of those models are Kate Upton.

2) Sons of Taurus - Space Sharks: WIP Rhino, Captain, Ironclad
Space Sharks are pretty rad.  Even if you want to fancy it up and call them Carcharodons Astra - which, I can't stress this enough - did not happen here.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

HoP Idol II Auditions Now Live

With the recent, and most likely (and most hopefully) temporary departure  of GMort due to the powers of that bitch IRL, we at the HoP have decided to go ahead on a planned resurrection of the HoP Idol contest.  We've upped our timeline on this a wee bit, but are happy to get right into the swing of things again after last year's wildly successful outing.  As an added spoiler, we may be adding an author or two prior to the contest getting under way, but we'll keep you abreast of that situation as it develops. 

For those that missed it last time around, this will be a singing writing competition aimed at finding a new author to give a permanent weekly series to on the HoP.  Weekly/Bi-weekly challenges will be assigned and our readership will vote on who stays in the competition as we eliminate prospects before the big final finale.  

Rumors that this year's contest would be patterned off of the highly superior NBC singing contest The Voice have proved false- those fancy ass spinning chairs are expensive as hell.... just ask Gary Numan.  More specific details about the contest format this time around will be made available as we make them up.  We're going to be pulling out all the stops on this one, but want to wait and see how many applicants we get this time around before we decide how to proceed.  This year you can all expect bigger and better challenges and a host of twists- although the twist could be that there are no twists... guess you'll just have to wait and see.

Instructions for entering the contest are after the jump.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Community Re-Announcement: Headshots from the Heart Charity Drive

Hey guys, SinSynn is running a bit late today so while you're all waiting for whatever insane thing he's going to post, why don't you check this out?

A while back, we posted a little announcement about Dave G's (of Wargaming Tradecraft) charity event.

In essence, it's a video game marathon and painted miniature auction where the proceeds go to the Child's Play charity.  All the details are here and here.

Anyway, Dave has masterfully finished up the minis for the auction and the actual gaming marathon is right around the corner and will be starting this Saturday!

So you have a few days to consider donating and drooling over Dave's amazing models.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

GMort's Sabbatical

I know you we're all hoping against hope to see another GMort post today, but I'm afraid all I have is ashes and bitterness for you instead.

GMort is taking some time off.

I'll let him tell the story:

Hi Guys and Gal, 
Though I have greatly enjoyed the last few years writing for the IHoP network I'm sad to say that I no longer have the time or energy to commit do doing so with any regularity.

I will be the first to admit that the quality of my articles isn't up to the standard they once were and that's primarily due to lack of time. I also have almost no time to spend actually doing any hobby which means there's much less to inspire me I'm afraid. Should this unfortunate situation change then I hope you'll have a place for me again in the future but for now I'm afraid for now I'll have to call it a day. 
It's been fun...and I hope some time soon it will be so again... 

You'll be missed, man.  But you gotta take care of that pesky IRL stuff.  If you get that all nailed down, there will definitely be a place for back on the roster.


Monday, May 21, 2012

New Member Monday - Awards and Accolades

Hello and welcome to another week at the only blog network to have have won Shropshire's coveted "village of the year" award.  Keen!

Also, we got one of these.
I won't say that it didn't take a lot of hard work to clench the win, but not in the way you think.  It was a massive undertaking, but one mostly of deception, card board cutouts and caffeine fueled miscreantism.  And SinSynn may, may have killed a guy.  But he could be taking the heat off of Lo.

Note to self:  keep my eye on those two.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

[Musings of a Game Store Owner] Where Can I Get Some More Plastic Crack?

As a game store owner, I hear all kinds of jokes about being the 'crack dealer' and how it's so hard for my customers to resist...

We love it, and enjoy the joke to it's fullest. What a lot of our customers don't understand is that we have dealers too...

Our dealers are distributors. Our dealers reach us in a variety of ways- email, phone calls, direct trade magazines and more. Email has become huge- TheDude gets no less than 50 a day with sell sheets on new products and information on upcoming specials. They call at least once a week (sometimes more- we got a new rep from one of our smaller distributors who has not yet learned calling every day isn't wise) and often make deals to help boost their numbers.

Something that a lot of folks don't know is that while we get a discount on what we buy, we're restricted to how much by the distributor. They set the prices, and if we like a product that doesn't get a good discount, we gotta PAY to get it just like you do.

Distributors are able to sell lots of games to lots of people at pretty good prices, and give more geeks opportunities to play games they have not heard of, or seen reviewed and want to try, as well as expose designers and companies to the masses.