Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Older than old school

Now the time has come.  One cannot talk of retro gaming without mentioning TRUE retro gaming.  I'm talking about table top biznacho!  Table top gaming is as old as human beings.  We're talking thousands of years.  Lets look at Chess for example.  Chess has buckets of variations.  Even the Vikings had a form Chess.  But talking about ALL table top games is WAY beyond the scope of this post.  What I really want to talk about are pen-and-paper role playing games and modern table top war games (mainly Warhammer).

Pen-and-paper rpgs have been around for a while.  Everyone has at least heard of "Dungeons and Dragons".  But did you know there are hundreds of such rpgs?  There is literally a pen-and-paper rpg for every kind of setting you can imagine.  And if for some unholy reason you want to role play in a setting that has not yet been marketed as a game, there are different base role playing systems that you can buy and use to create your own world and settings.  For instance, did you know there is a Robotech rpg?  Or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rpg?  They exist.  Google them.  Hunt around on Amazon.com or your local geek store.  And for those who don't want to venture too far into uncharted territory, there is even a pen-and-paper Warcraft role playing game that is very much like everyone's precious World of Warcraft.  If nothing else, the books are really cool to read through and enjoy the illustrations and lore.

If rpgs aren't your cup of tea, perhaps you like strategy war games.  Technically, Chess is a war game, but the most popular modern table top war game is by far Warhammer.  Never heard of it?  Well to give you a bit of perspective, when the original Warcraft came out for PC way back in the day, the creators of Warhammer sued the Warcraft boys because Warcraft was basically Warhammer in on a computer.  In fact, if you can find a Games Workshop store and ask an employee what they think of Warcraft many will get quite defensive to this day.  Basically, in Warhammer you buy and hand paint an army of fantasy creatures like elves and dwarves, then wage turn based war with one another.  Multiple players can play at once and the battlefield is also constructed by you.  You can buy terrain pieces or improvise and make your own.  It's really rather impressive when you walk into a Games Workshop location on a day they are holding a tournament.  Playing a game on your computer is one thing, but its another thing entirely to see an entire miniature battlefield complete with trees and buildings sprawled out before you with armies of little warriors in battle formations.  And because you paint them yourself, you have a limitless level of customization.  Once completed, you really do feel proud of your accomplishment because it just looks so freaking cool.

And thats just original Warhammer.  There is also Warhammer 40,000 for those of the scifi variety.  40k as its called by fans replaces orcs and elves with space marines and battleships.  This is also an interesting point since 40k is Warhammer in space and Starcraft has been called Warcraft in space.  One can see why a lawsuit might have been filed.  By the way, there are pen-and-paper rpgs for both Warhammer and 40k.

Another batch of games I would like to mention belong to a company called Dream Pod 9.  They make some truely radical games for both the war gamer and rpg-er alike.  I really like some of there settings and you can download and print out free sample games from them that you can play which makes them even cooler.

A final place I would like to throw out there is Steve Jackson Games.  This guy has been around for decades and offers tons of games that cover a broad spectrum of types and settings.  His role playing system is called GURPS and is a nice alternative to the D20 system used by D&D.

So in conclusion, I issue to you a challenge:  Set aside your electronic entertainment for a moment and try out a table top game.  You will feel the spirits of retro gaming flowing through you and will gain a +9 to all geeky rolls and a +4 modifier to geeklore.