Minecraft Dungeons First Look

Introduction

Thanks for reading Minecraft Dungeons First Look! I was going to call this a review and, technically speaking, it qualifies. However, I’ve only played through about an hour and a half with Quinn, so it is by no means comprehensive. So, to finish out another Minecraft week, let’s talk about Minecraft Dungeons.

I’m not sure how I learned about the game. I think it came up as a suggestion in the store perhaps. That’s probably it. That’s not entirely relevant other than I learned about the game late as usual. When I told Quinn about it, he said something about a YouTuber he watches talking about the game.

Perpetually, Captain.

The game was advertised as a classic dungeon crawler in the Minecraft style. For some reason, I couldn’t envision that. Even watching video, I was confused. What do they mean, dungeon crawler. Then, I played the game and it clicked. Oh, this is just Minecraft Diablo. I’ve just always put Diablo in the ARPG category. So, labels are dumb, Folks. Now that I’ve played it, let’s take a first look.

The Great

Fun! – The game is a ton of fun. I mean, at least to me, that’s the only qualifier for a game to be good. Sure, story and graphics are nice little cherries on top. But, there’s only one thing that I ultimately care about. Is the game fun. This game is. I had fun. Quinn kept saying during our play time, “This game is so fun!” A friend just texted me last night to say, “Minecraft Dugeons is so damn addicting.”

Familiar – This game isn’t Minecraft. But, it’s not meant to be. With that being said, it’s familiar enough that you will find yourself doing a double take when you aren’t able to mine that cobblestone over there or you take damage from a runaway minecart.

It’s exactly as advertised. Classic dungeon crawler with a Minecraft skin.

The Good

Helpful – We all know Minecraft is a kid’s game, right? Nevermind all those streamers on Twitch. By and large, the audience of Minecraft is kids and maybe their parents. Mojang hasn’t forgotten those roots and includes helpful hints and tips as you play. There’s even an icon that points you in the right direction in case you get lost. Very nice touch.

Tough? – Don’t mistake the game as a kid’s game for one that isn’t challenging. Sometimes, games remove the challenge. That’s incredibly frustrating for me. Thankfully, the Lego games don’t. Mojang seems to have taken a page from their book. The game is tough. Quinn and I wiped multiple times against a particular boss, even with the two of us.

The Decent

Limited – I don’t know if this is true, but the game does feel limited. As Quinn and I were playing, there aren’t a ton of different types of drops from what I can see. The map feels small. And, like any of these games, there isn’t much to combat. X,X,X,X,A,X,X,X,X,A,B,X,X,X. There are two expansions already planned and maybe more will come if the game is popular. Until then, expect to be a bit frustrated by how little there is. Even Quinn said, “Wow, I haven’t played this game much and I think I might already be close to beating it.”

Lego Failure – Mojang took a page from Lego’s book and made the game challenging. They appear to not have learned from the mistakes that Lego once made. Way back when, Lego games forced both characters to be in the same area on screen. This was incredibly frustrating for a young father of young kids. I think it was one of the Batman games. I’m not sure. But, eventually, they allowed for a split screen so that each person could explore individually. That was a huge QoL improvement that isn’t in Minecraft Dungeons. Not a huge deal, but as an explorer, it’s not ideal.

The Verdict

After a Minecraft Dungeons first look, I can confidently say that it is a game that will see quite a bit of play from us here at 2 Generations Gaming. I would, obviously, like to beat the game with Quinn and maybe Aiden if he chooses to play. Then, I’d like to do what I usually do with these types of games and replay it to explore. I was so bummed when they shut down the Torchlight 2 servers. I put so much time into that game. D3 has been a bit slower, but I have times that I’m very much interested in that one. Minecraft Dungeons will join that group for sure.

Mekanism: A Minecraft Mod Review

Introduction

What is Mekanism? Well, as usual, let me start with a story. Hey, give me a break. I’m a frustrated writer who has hasn’t been able to write, except for this web page. Give me this simple outlet. I can’t promise you it will be worth your time, but I will promise to try to make it quick. Deal?

Is that the banker I hear calling?

My favorite mods were utility like a mini map and an inventory mod. To be honest, the mini map is the one thing I miss on the XBox One. Okay, I said I’d make this quick. Well, I soon moved onto visual mods like Thaumcraft and Mekanism. Those were my two favorites and I played through a world on both of them.

Between the two mods, I was virtually indestructible. I had a jet pack, magic armor, plus extra health and armor. I could breathe underwater and convert unwanted items into magical essence. It was fun for awhile. However, the curse of omnipotence is very real, my friends. Soon, I grew bored of being a Minecraft god. Then, my computer took a dump and I lost the world anyway.

A Return to Mekanism

We’ve gotten a new computer. Of course, Minecraft was one of the first things installed. However, I took a second job working nights and there was no time to play. Fast forward to March and the Covid-10 crisis and now I have all the time in the world. There’s only one problem. The XBox One is downstairs and the computer is up in Aiden’s bedroom. Long story, that. Not really, but I said I’d keep this short.

Okay, moving on. Jeez, you are pushy! When I planned Minecraft, I knew I’d do an article about mods. I’ve already talked about Thaumcraft in the past. However, you just can’t have a Minecraft week without talking about mods. So, I did some research to see the status of my old mods. Thaumcraft appears to have been abandoned, but Mekanism was just recently updated. Huzzah! Off we go.

The Great

Ore Processing – The mod introduces new ways to process your ores. As you increase your efficiency with new machines, you are able to take one ore and break it down into “more refined” materials. From one ore, you can conceivably get 5 ingots. Granted, there aren’t many ores in Minecraft that are truly rare, but this still makes for a massive surplus in a lot of cases.

The set up is pretty crazy, though.

Jet Packs! – I’m a big fan of jet packs. Often, when I taught engineering, I used jet packs as a solution to getting from one side of the river to the other. Mekanism gives you the ability to fly using jet packs. It is quite possibly the coolest item I’ve ever crafted in all of Minecraft. Just thinking about it now makes me want to go up and start the process.

The Good

Electricity – Sure, Redstone allows for some circuitry in Minecraft and is a sort of pseudo electricity. However, Mekanism gives you real honest to goodness generators and processors that run on electricity. You even have to craft and run wires in some cases to make it work. Sure, it seems like a small thing and maybe not a distinction worth mentioning. However, it’s one that I found interesting.

New Ores – I have to be honest. I almost put this one in “The Great” section. Then again, I’m the kind of guy who still gets excited every time I run across coal while I’m mining. If you give me new materials that are necessary to build new stuff, that just means there’s more to hunt for when I’m out mining!

Plus, I just like saying Osmium.

The Decent

Not a Full Reskin – The mod isn’t sold as a full reskin and I wasn’t expecting one. It just introduces some new materials and craftables. With all of that being said, I think something like Pixelmon or Parzi’s Star Wars Mod are a lot more fun than something like Mekanism. The main problem there is that those mods are usually too quickly abandoned. Probably because they’re a ton of work to design, develop, and update.

No In-Game Tutorial – I’m going to be honest again. This is really the only thing that bothers me about the mod. I just added the full reskin so that I could have my requisite 2 items in each section. Sure, there is an extensive tutorial online. Also, people have made their own. However, one of the things that I liked so much about Thaumcraft was that you could learn on the go and not have to alt-tab to figure things out. Granted, it’s a small inconvenience, but it is inconvenient.

We need a Mekanomicon. That sounds too much like Necronomicon. I will work on the name.

The Verdict

While Thaumcraft was probably my favorite mod for Minecraft, Mekanism was always a close second. Unfortunately, Thaumcraft hasn’t been updated in a few years. As I remember, it was pretty fully functional, so that isn’t a huge deal. Nevertheless, that means that Mekanism has moved into first place. There is such a variety of tasks to keep you busy. Definitely check it out if you have the chance.

Pokemon Tabletop United RPG First Look

Pokemon Tabletop United RPG first look? Yes, as usual, I’m behind the times. It looks like the game was a labor of love by some fans and they’ve stopped updating and supporting it. That’s fine. From just a quick perusal of the rulebooks and “start here” message, it seems like they actually got a solid game put together.

Oh, you mean you weren’t aware that there was a Pokemon tabletop RPG? If I’m being honest, neither did I. After I decided to make this Pokemon week, I went searching for one. I’m surprised that WotC hasn’t jumped on something. Maybe they just own the rights to the TCG and can’t develop beyond that. Eh, a quick Google search would probably turn up an answer.

That quick Google search turned up that the exactly own the patent to the CCG and therefore, probably can’t develop an RPG. It’s almost like I know what I’m talking about.

As with my D&D Ravnica article, I’m only going to go through some of the lore and the character creation process. It’s been too nice here after being locked up for too long to sit around playing an hours long session of an RPG lately. I’m sure we will end up playing it at some point at least with Liam and Quinn because they’re both big Pokemon fans. And, there has to be a rainy day or two at some point over the next few months, right?

The Great

In Depth – To be perfectly honest, it might be a little too in depth. But, more on that later. I’m impressed that this is simply a labor of love by fans of Pokemon. There is just so much information in this game. Also, it is presented in a professional way. I was excited to discover the game. After reading through some materials, I can’t wait to play an actual game to see if it lives up to my hype.

This is an excerpt from the Character Creation chapter. Doesn’t that look like something WotC could have released. I want to play this game!

Well Integrated – Similar to the Ravnica book that I reviewed previously, it would have been easy for them to just slap the Pokemon name on an already established RPG and call it a day. Of course, it would have been much more disappointing if a big company like WotC had done that. I would have forgiven these guys for taking shortcuts in developing their Pokemon game. But they didn’t and bully on them!

The Good

Good Walkthrough – In keeping with the praise, they have a good walkthrough to help in creating a character. There are explanations, examples, and a thorough step by step process. Somebody should pick this game up and continue to develop it. Yes, I realize I’m somebody. Who knows, maybe I will.

From the looks of it, I either need to become a lady or grow a beard and get some sweet looking glasses.

Supplements – In addition to the main DM/Player’s Guide, there are 3 supplementary books. And that’s not even including the Alola Pokedex that is included. One deals with legendary Pokemon. One introduces sci-fi elements. The last fleshes out the supernatural. Did I mention that I got all of this for free? Man, I love the internet sometimes.

The Decent

Errata – There is also errata for the game based on some play testing. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but there can be such a thing as too much information. It’s a lot to take in initially. Yes, there is always the RPG rule of forgetting things that you don’t want to use. Even so, a new player is sure to be overwhelmed at this point.

Too In Depth? – As I mentioned earlier and, following up on that last point, the game might be a bit too in depth. I don’t think that it is. However, I am a 30 year veteran of RPGs. I know how to navigate the landscape. For new players, like Chris, all of the information is overwhelming. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that the game never took off and isn’t being updated anymore.

Again, I don’t think so. But, a former student once compared me to Mewtwo, so I’m pretty much a super genius.

The Verdict

Thanks for reading my Pokemon Tabletop United RPG First Look. I never did get around to making a character, but I surely will over the next few weeks. Then, when we get a rainy day, maybe we can play some D&D and this game. I’ll be back with a more in depth review after that. If you’ve played the game and want to let me know how it went, email, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter us!

PokeMon Shield Review (Finally!)

Introduction

I’m probably the last person in the world to write a Pokemon Shield Review. I did a first impressions article back before the game came out. Then, my son got the game (because he’s a huge Pokemon fan and always buys the games), but I never played it. Since this week has become Pokemon week, I figured why not play the game and write my review finally.

It could be worse, I suppose. I could be the literal last man on earth.

Besides, it’s not like the article isn’t topical. As I was trying to figure out how to load the game without screwing up Liam’s save file, I saw that they’re coming out with an expansion for the game. It’s releasing next month. So, you might get Pokemon week two months in a row! I mean, after the news I just got, we are going to do Minecraft twice this month, so anything’s possible!

The Great

Hot Keys – Since I only play the games once every other generation or so (though I have played the last two releases), I’m not sure when this became a thing. However, it is quite the quality of life improvement. I noticed as I was battling once that the Pokeball came up as a hotkey of the “X” button. Again, not a big deal, but that means that you can throw a Pokeball without having to navigate through the menu. Great addition. I will have to look to see if you can expand that capability to other things like potions.

Graphics! – That’s exactly how I wrote it in my notes. I knew there was a reason that they moved the Pokemon series to the Switch. I mean, besides the obvious of trying to sell more consoles. The graphics on this game are like nothing I’ve ever seen in a Pokemon game before. I mean, Sun and Moon were good, but this is great. It’s like you are playing a cartoon. I’m blown away.

I mean, I’m not usually a graphics guy, but it’s impressive what they can do these days.

The Good

Story – Those of you who know me at all know that about 90% of the reason that I play games is for the story. Pokemon games aren’t exactly know for their strong stories, but they are consistent, at least. Honestly, this one is pretty decent. Maybe not as fun as Sun and Moon, but it will keep me coming back to play the game.

So Many Pokemon: I’m also on record as being a grumpy old man gamer who wants all these Pokemon to get off my lawn. However, I’ve eased on that stance a bit and I quite enjoy there being so many pocket monsters. It means I’ll never in a lifetime “catch em all”. However, that was always the reality.

I mean, who has time to chase down all 151?

The Decent

Wild Area – Maybe I’m proceeding through the game too quickly, but it feels like this came very early. There is just little warning for what you will potentially face in the area. Sure, they tell you (more or less) to stay away from the glowing parts, but I could figure that out myself. The thing that really blew me away was the overpowered Pokemon wandering around. The first one I tried to fight and got destroyed. The second I ran into accidentally. I mean, they’re easily avoided, but that was a rude awakening.

The Music – There should be some nostalgia factor to this and I guess there is. What I should have said is the battle music. It’s loud and grating and repetitive. I mean, my youngest likes it and he’s the target audience, so they must be doing something right. I just have to mute the whole game because of it. Maybe it’s good that they haven’t gone to voice actors since people like me just mute the game.

Visual representation of the music.

The Verdict

Thanks for taking the time to read my Pokemon Shield review. Overall, the game is a lot of fun and I’ll be playing it quite a bit in between the new Mortal Kombat story and Minecraft dungeons over the next couple of weeks. Maybe I’ll revisit after that to see if it is still fun. However, both of my kids are still playing it 6 months later, so that seems like a rousing endorsement. Go catch em all!

MK11 Aftermath Gameplay/Friendship Reaction

Thanks for watching my MK11 Aftermath gameplay/friendship reaction video. A friend mentioned the gameplay video and warned me against spoiling myself. Those of you who regularly visit the page know that I care nothing about spoilers, so I immediately searched up the trailer to watch. When the friendship trailer then released, I knew I’d have to do a video. These reaction videos seem to be my thing right now.

They’ve been good for me to get comfortable in front of the camera and make more content over the last few months as I’ve been at home from work. I’ve been consistently updating the web page with articles, but podcasts and videos have been slower in happening. I think this makes 3 weeks in a row that I’ve produced at least one video and I do have a list of others that I’d like to finish.

Those will most likely happen after next week, as school ends then. As usual, I offer no promises. However, as I said earlier, I have been much more consistent with content recently so, *fingers crossed*, that will continue as I continue to expand into video.

The only potential “problem” I see is that everyone else will still be in “school” until the middle of June. They’ve been spreading out throughout the house. So, I might not be able to find a quiet place to record the videos. I might just have to do them later in the day or at night when everyone is asleep. Okay, that’s neither here nor there. You don’t really need to know my plans going forward.

Instead, let’s focus on the MK11 Aftermath gameplay/friendship reaction. I always hated animalities. Then again, I’m on board as MK3 being perhaps my least favorite Mortal Kombat game ever. I was fine with Babalities at first but they got old quickly. Friendships, on the other hand, are just as inspired as fatalities a lot of the time. It allows the developers to consider the personalities of the fighters when designing the moves.

Also, for you people who were complaining about the price of the expansion, you get the friendships for free. That’s a damn good deal. Stop complaining. And, for the love of god, get over Mileena already.

Pokemon Rebel Clash VMAX Card Review

Introduction

Thanks for reading my Pokemon Rebel Clash VMAX card review. It has been a while since we’ve had any Pokemon content on the page and that was an article that ultimately never led anywhere. I’m not even sure if I have the cube that I started. Man, I am the king of unfinished projects. Now, though, as has been mentioned, I seemingly have all the time in the world. So, maybe it’s time to start finishing some things.

Then again, JJ Abrams has made a career out of not finishing things.

In the meantime, I noticed that a new Pokemon expansion came out at the beginning of the month. Our Pokemon TCG playing is intermittent. Quinn and I played a game about a month ago that I thought might lead to more consistent games. It didn’t. I’m not entirely sure why.

He seemed like he had fun playing the game and event went to tweak his deck to play again. Then, we didn’t. I mean, don’t feel sorry for us or anything. We’ve played dumb amounts of Minecraft and Lego Ninjago Movie video game. Maybe I should have made this week Lego week instead of Pokemon. Oh well, it is what it is and the new Pokemon set looks neat.

A Note about my Rating System

I don’t usually rate cards, but it felt like the correct way to analyze this set. Since I’m choosing just each VMAX Pokemon from the set, giving them a rating seems like the appropriate way to handle it. 1-10 always feels arbitrarily large and I’ve always been told not to have a “middle rating”. Therefore, I will rate them 1 Pokecoin (I’d never play) to 4 Pokecoins (I’d absolutely play).

Grass Energy (Rillaboom VMAX)

I’m not sure what they’re trying to do with this card. Having not played Pokemon TCG very much recently, I don’t know what the individual energy strategies are. By the looks of it, grass has become stompy. If so, this is a pretty stompy creature for sure. Even so, I’d only give this 2 Pokecoins.

Fire Energy (Cinderace VMAX)

I really like this creature. There’s not much energy investment in either ability. The first one is nice because it might make your opponent think twice about using a big attack. And, the second one burns the opposing Pokemon, which can go a long way to doing some damage over time. I give this one 4 Pokecoins.

Water Energy (Inteleon VMAX)

This is another nice one. With the first attack, you can keep bouncing energy from the opponent’s Pokemon to prevent them from attacking. Or, with the second one, you can snipe weak benched Pokemon and collect prize cards pretty quickly. This guy gets 3 Pokecoins.

Toxicitry VMAX

This guy only has one attack and it is a bit conditional. I mean, 160 is nothing to sneeze at and 240 is overkill in most cases. Even so, this one just doesn’t impress me. I had given the grass guy a 1, but I amended that. This is the new standard for 1 Pokecoin.

Psychic Energy (Dragapult VMAX)

I find this Pokemon intriguing, but not particularly good. Usually, in Magic the Gathering, that means that I’m going to try to find a way to use the card. It could be a one in a million combo that I’ll never actually pull off unless I’m goldfishing, but I’m gonna push that combo. This guy gets 3 Pokecoins.

Dark Energy (Malamar VMAX)

In the past, I’ve been a huge dark energy fan. Usually, I make decks that are dark and psychic. I was looking forward to the dark VMAX Pokemon. I should have tempered my expectations. This card is garbage. If I could, I’d give this one negative Pokecoins. Moving on.

Metal Energy (Copperajah VMAX)

The first attack is decent against beefy basic Pokemon. Otherwise, it’s not bad. The second attack has a huge energy investment, but 240 damage is pretty good. Overall, not a great card, but not a terrible one. If I left myself the wiggle room of a middle rating, I’d give this one that. Since I’d be more likely to not play it than play it, I have to give it 2 Pokecoins. See, that’s why you don’t give a middle rating. Then, you actually have to think about your ratings.

The Verdict

Pokemon has always been my second favorite collectible card game. And, if I’m being honest, it’s pretty far down there. Magic the Gathering is, by far, my favorite and the others are sort of jumbled together in 2nd place. This Pokemon Rebel Clash VMAX card review hasn’t changed my mind much. I’m not going to drop the money on a booster box of the set or anything. I might pick up a deck or some packs, so I guess it puts it firmly in the 2nd place for right now.

Note: All images courtesy of Pokecollector.com. I found them searching for spoilers on the Google machine. Hope they aren’t a litigious bunch!

DunGeons and Dragons: Destination Ravnica?

Introduction

Dungeons and Dragons: Destination Ravnica? The title says it all. I remember back when Wizards of the Coast purchased the Dungeons and Dragons property from TSR, Inc. Being one of those grumpy old man gamers (more so even than I am now as an actual grumpy old man) who railed against the conglomeration happening at the time. I mean, generally speaking, it is a bad thing.

And this is under unfettered and unregulated capitalism. Technically, it’s not a monopoly, right?

Then things more or less went as they had been. It was like the Activision acquisition of Blizzard. People were concerned about that, as well. I mean, sure, you can make an argument that it hasn’t worked out well. And, trust me, people have made that argument. However, I still play Hearthstone daily and the new trailer for Shadowlands has me thinking about picking up World of Warcraft again.

My main point is that the WotC acquisition of Dungeons and Dragons and then the acquisition of WotC by Hasbro has more or less gone off without much of a hitch. Sure, there have been some growing pains, but mostly unless you knew, you’d probably not even know the difference.

Does this qualify as a growing pain? I mean, I enjoy playing it and so does Quinn, but I’m sure there are people who stopped playing MtG because of this.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. In addition to putting the MTG license on board games, they have also released Dungeons and Dragons products with Magic the Gathering lore. The first I heard of this was a campaign based in Ravnica. This makes sense because Ravnica is quite possibly the most popular plane in Magic the Gathering. Well, I finally got around to picking up the sourcebook for the campaign. How is it? I’m glad you asked.

The Great

Well Integrated – You got Dungeons and Dragons in my Magic the Gathering! You got Magic the Gathering in my Dungeons and Dragons! Two great tastes that taste great together? Well, actually, yes. I spend some time in the Dungeons and Dragons Beyond character creation and simply from that I can see that they’ve been able to blend the two games almost flawlessly.

As Chris and I discussed, the art alone is nearly worth the price.

In Depth – Not that I expect any less from Dungeons and Dragons, but you never know. They could have easily just mailed it in. They didn’t. There is an absurd amount of information in this book about the plane of Ravnica and the denizens that reside there. I felt like I was being transported to the plane of Ravnica as I read through the book. Honestly, they’re probably just happy that they get to finally share all of this information with us.

The Good

Sample Adventure – Speaking of mailing it in, the sample adventure that they’ve included in the book feels like just a bit of generic Dungeons and Dragons with the Ravnica characters tossed in for some flavor. I get it. It’s just a sample adventure and D&D has a certain feel to is, so maybe all adventures/games feel like this. I know I had a similar reaction to Pool of Radiance.

I mean, it is cool to see Krenko in this context.

Character Creation – As mentioned earlier, I spent a good two hours in the Dungeons and Dragons Beyond character creation tool. So, why isn’t this in the great section? Well, I now have these two characters that I’ve invested time and emotion into and now I don’t have a campaign to play them. Poor guys.

The Decent

Tables to create adventures – I know that not everyone is creative. However, I was a bit taken aback by the tables that they put in the book to create an adventure. Basically, nearly all of the decision making and creativity is taken out of the task of being a Dungeon Master. Ultimately, it doesn’t affect me and I can ignore it.

And, truth be told, I’ll probably use it once or twice for giggles.

I want more! – Yes, this is a cop out. No, I don’t care. Honestly, the only “bad” thing I can find about this is, in spite of how in depth it is, I still want more. More lore, more characters, more story. The whole thing is just a testament to how much I love both of these games. I can’t wait for Theros to be released.

The Verdict

You never know how these crossovers are going to go. Especially in comic books lately, their super summer crossover events have been lackluster. However, Dungeons and Dragons: Destination Ravnica is an overwhelming success. I already have the adventure that I wrote for the family and I will be sure to expand on that, but there’s nothing that says we can’t have multiple campaigns. See you on Ravnica!

POOL OF RADIANCE: Noob’s Way Back Machine

Introduction

I don’t know if I ever played Pool of Radiance. One of my most fond memories of high school is playing Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve already talked some about my memories with paper and pencil D&D. However, I also have extensive experience with the computer games as well.

The thing about the PC games is that I don’t have specific memories of which games I played. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I remember playing the Spelljammer game and I remember playing at least one of the Dark Sun games. I don’t know if I played any of the Dragonlance games, though I’m almost positive that I did at one point or another. It remains my favorite setting even today.

In case there was any question, we’re putting the “way back” in Way Back Machine today.

One game I’m almost positive that I never played was Pool of Radiance. Why, then, am I picking that game to feature? Well, according to my extensive research (a single Google search), it is the first of the PC games to feature the mechanics of D&D. So, it’s only fair that I pick that one as my first entry into the Way Back Machine. If it goes well, I might take a look at one of the Dark Sun games in a couple of weeks. If it goes poorly, I definitely will.

The Great

Decent Graphics – I know many of you will scoff at this. And, you might have a right to do so. However, compared to my expectations, this game blew them away. Granted, I’m not sure what my expectations were, but I clearly forgot about the capabilities of those early games. There were different sprites for the different monsters and you were able to customize your characters to some degree.

I mean, doesn’t he have the classic dwarven features?

Surprisingly in depth – Again, I’m not sure what I was expecting. I mean, we’re not exactly in the prehistory of games, but 1988 is pretty early in the history. The Super Nintendo (when I really started to become involved in video games and consider to be the start of good graphics and consistently good gameplay) is still 3 or 4 years away. I guess the old PC gamer mentality of being a step ahead was true at the time. In addition to the character creation feeling almost (you don’t individually roll stats, but you do pick alignment) like pencil and paper, the features of the game are greater than the sum of their parts. Let’s talk about some of those features.

The Good

Intuitive – Granted, this isn’t pick up and play if you haven’t played Dungeons and Dragons before. It will take some getting used to. As I told Chris when he texted about flipping through a source book, “It’s a whole other language. However, like Magic, once you get used to it, it’s second nature.” This game is very much along those lines. Within a half an hour of (probably too in depth for a simple review article) character creation, I was into the game and wiping my party. (More on that in a bit)

Minimap – Again, those of you who have grown up in modern video game times might get a chuckle out of an oldbie like me thinking that the minimap is worth of mention in the article. But, hear me out. Being an oldbie pencil and paper D&D guy, I took about 5 minutes to look for some graph paper to start drawing my own map of the town before I realized there was a minimap built into the interface.

Even so, my map would have been more detailed.

The Decent

The Story – The story of Pool of Radiance isn’t bad. In fact, it’s actually pretty engaging and gets you into the action quickly. I’m not surprised because this is a TSR (the owners of the D&D license before WotC bought them) product. Even so, the story is pretty generic RPG stuff and isn’t engaging enough to keep me coming back for more. That’s to be expected since The Forgotten Realms is the most generic of D&D settings

Pool of Radiance is hard! – So, I went to the City Hall to find out what commissions I could collect. “Go to the ruins and help clear it of monsters.” Okay, sounds good. Let’s kill some monsters. First encounter in the ruins? A party of kobolds. No problem, right? Wrong. 2 party members dead. Crikey! Let’s rest. Nope. Interrupted by a party of monsters. Let’s rest in the city. Nope. It costs 1 platinum to rest in the inn. Let’s rest in an alley. Nope. Caught by the guards. WTF. Okay, how about a temple? 100 gold pieces for cure light wounds. Jesus. Fine. Now, back into the ruins. Second encounter is a party of orcs. And, we’re all dead. Well, that was fun.

Lucky I saved my game. Now, if only I could figure out how to load it.

The Verdict

Pool of Radiance is a game that definitely stands the test of time. Over 30 years later and I will probably keep going back to try to at least defeat that first dungeon. Who knows? Once I do that, I’m sure that I’ll be back to try to finish the rest of the game. Then, I’ll move on to other games in the series. I have been playing the game on this web based emulator. However, I recently discovered a place that has the game plus a bunch of others for only 10 bucks. I just have to vet the source to make sure that it is legit and not bloatware or virus ridden like the old Limewire files. In spite of the frustration of the game being hard, I suggest you give it a try.

D&D: Welcome to Joizha

Introduction

Welcome to Joizha! Yesterday, on Facebook, I got the question, “When did you start playing Dungeons and Dragons?” The person followed up that they hadn’t heard of the game until high school. So, here’s my story. And, I promise this time it will be a short one.

My mother bought me a book when I was in middle school. It was called “Firstborn: The Eleven (This isn’t correct. Spoiler Alert.) Nations Trilogy”. I read through the entire book and then went searching at Waldenbooks (if you need further proof that I’m old) for more. I don’t think I found the second book in the trilogy, but I did find the Dragonlance Chronicles series.

But, I promised quick and this is already going too long for some of you, I’m sure. It wasn’t until I read the second and, maybe even after I finished the trilogy, that I realized it was the Elven nation. Oh, that makes sense. Sithel and Kith-Kanan are elves. Also, there aren’t 11 nations.

You’d think the angry looking elf king on the front page would have been the only clue I needed.

In any case, that is how I ended up being introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. From the novels, I moved on to the game as most do. First, I purchased the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide when I was in high school. I don’t remember if my friends at the time played the game or if I got them into the game. I think it was a mixture of both. Eventually, I started jotting down ideas for campaigns of my own.

What is Joizha?

One of those campaigns I started was an ambitious attempted crossover to introduce technology into Dungeons and Dragons. My friends and I hadn’t discovered RIFTS yet, so this was a ground breaking achievement in my mind. I set out to start building the world. As often happened during my teenage years, the attempt stalled because I was more interested in young women and the mall and going to the mall to look at young women. I didn’t have the courage to talk to any of them.

Whatever.

However, I’m now married. It is frowned upon to look at other women. As a result, I have more time to finish those projects that I started and abandoned all those years ago. I completed two books (I’m more proud of the short stories, if you have time). When this quarantine (I know it’s not technically a quarantine, but we’ve all agreed that’s what we’re calling it) started, I decided to write my own Dungeons and Dragons adventure.

Enter Joizha. It was a small mining town in that “technologically advanced” campaign that I started as a teenager. So, instead of reinventing the wheel for my first campaign that I’d have time to finish, I went back and mined my memories for details. It came together pretty quickly. I fleshed out the town a bit, a harbor city that the party might visit (Staten Harbor), and took a mine from the Campaign and Catacomb Sourcebook as inspiration for the dungeon.

I didn’t upload a picture of Joizha yet to my Instagram, but here’s a rough draft of Staten Harbor

Welcome to Joizha (Eventually)

I haven’t written about Dungeons and Dragons in over 5 years. As mentioned in one of the articles I wrote back then, it’s mainly because Chris doesn’t play. The boys and I (and even Christine) played a game last year, but it ended a bit sour with the boys saying that they were bored. So, I went researching on ways to make it more interesting for them.

Then, I got a second job as a custodian at nights and things fell apart in more ways than one. I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to an extended D&D campaign. Now, as mentioned several times over the past month, I have nothing but time. Especially when school ends, we’ll be lousy with free time. So, hopefully, I have the opportunity to say, “Welcome to Joizha!” to my family and get a chance to play through the dungeon with them.

WoW: Shadowlands Trailer Reaction

Thanks for watching my WoW: Shadowlands trailer reaction video. A couple of days ago, I recorded a reaction video for the new Mortal Kombat 11 expansion, Aftermath trailer. On the same day that I got the idea to do that video, I learned that there was a trailer for the new World of Warcraft expansion.

I have a long and somewhat checkered history with World of Warcraft. I won’t admit to being addicted to the game (because that just sounds sad). However, I played a ton of WoW and my /played time on that game is rivaled only by my played time on Skyrim. I haven’t played WoW in a few years. I sometimes miss it and feel the pull back into the game, though.

My most recent character was a Tauren (not this one pictured) named Karrne, because Carne is Spanish for “beef”. Cow man, beef, get it? Yeah, not many others did either. They thought I was paying homage to the Chieftain of the Tauren, Cairne. Oh well.

And, so, that’s how I ended up watching the trailer and texting my friend, “I just watched the trailer for the new World of Warcraft expansion and I think I’m back in.” He texted back about me being back out. You know, the old Godfather quote that everyone uses. I replied, “There’s plenty of time to change my mind.”

Honestly, I don’t think that I’ll end up playing World of Warcraft again. Sure, as I’ve mentioned more than once, I do have the time to play the game. But, I don’t think that it is one of those games that I need to play anymore. I have games that I play with the boys and those are more of a priority for me.

So, will this WoW: Shadowlands trailer reaction be the first in a series of dominoes that will send me spiraling back into the game? Stay tuned to find out!