Return to EQ II

If you follow me for very long, and most assuredly if you read my older stuff, you know I am a big fan and player of the game Everquest II.  In recent years though it has been mostly a love/hate relationship.  I have so many fond memories of playing the MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game.  I started playing the game back in 2004 and have been a subscriber of the game on and off for the last ten years.

Recently they made the game free to play, and with that the need to generate money by selling literally every aspect of the game from potions, mounts, levels, skills, spells, items, etc….  I do not have a problem with that, other than some of the items are garishly horrendous in appearance.  But I do take offense when they turn around and give away free stuff to entice players to stay — sort of like a drug pusher on the playground giving out free hits of speed.  They are not that coy when it comes to offering free stuff in the hopes that players will continue to buy stuff in the game.

EQ2 Guys

The free stuff just keeps coming and they just keep offering more free stuff.  At one point, I just threw up my hands and walked away.  It became nothing more than logging into the game to see what futher free stuff was going to be offered.

I left for about a year but then asked a friend if he would be willing to come back, but only if we moved to the RP server and take nothing for free.  We start completely over with nothing other than our memories — which for me is pretty faulty anyway.

Our first hours back feel so liberating.  We are fighting 10th level orcs and having a challenge.  We are accepting nothing for free and will continue to accept nothing on these characters.  I am not sure if my friend will continue to honor his pledge or not, but for me I am not going to accept spells or anniversary items in the least.  I want to earn every xp point, every platinum coin, every spell book, every item on my person.

Fighting with the Guardian


Edit:  I created a new account, so I came into this game with no anniversary gifts or any legacy items in the least. I further found out that at the free to play, Bronze Level, you cannot interact with the chat channels.  I just turned them off, enabling only group chat with my friends. How joyous is it not to read the banter of teenagers blathering about politics or religion — a blessing in disguise.

I wish Sony would create a throw-back retro server that essentially start the game over, with no expansions added — release 1 every 6 months.  How cool and fun would that be — I even wish they would make leveling ten times harder, but I doubt they would ever do that.

EsKape Press Seeks Submissions

EsKape Press is seeking submissions for all genres – agented and unagented material. Please submit completed, fully polished manuscripts to submissions @ (no spaces). In the subject line of your query, please type the word SUBMISSION followed by the line to which you are submitting and then the title of your manuscript (i.e. SUBMISSION: Burning Desire Getaway: Manuscript Title).

Your email submission should include the following:

Introductory letter listing the genre you’re subbing to, word count, and a short synopsis of your book (1-2 paragraphs much like a book blurb).

  • Your legal name as well as your pen name, if applicable.
  • Any writing credits.
  • Return email address, full mailing address, and phone number.
  • Save your manuscript as a DOC file with the file name TITLE_YOUR NAME (i.e. My Book_Jane Doe). Your manuscript should be double-spaced and in an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Cambria, or Bookman Old Style – font size 12.
  • On the first page of your manuscript at the top, please include your legal name/pen name, manuscript title, email address, genre, and word count. It’s vital to include this information in the body of your manuscript so we have it readily available.
  • All submissions will receive an auto-response acknowledging receipt. If you have not received the auto-response within 24 hours, please resend your email and file.

Please allow 4-6 weeks for a response to your submission. If after this time you have not received a response, please follow-up with a query email with SUBMISSION: Line to which you submitted: Manuscript Title in the subject line requesting the status of your submission.

We will strive to give personal feedback to each and every author whether we wish to contract the manuscript or not.

If you have any questions concerning submissions at all, please use the CONTACT US link above or email us at contact @ (no spaces). Be sure to include the words SUBMISSION QUESTION in the subject line. esKape Press is a full-disclosure publisher. We view our relationship with authors as a partnership, and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Magic the Gathering Variant

I have been playing Magic the Gathering for more than 15 years, probably closer to 20, and I have always had a horrible time with getting mana into play.  I am trying this varient to see if it changes the game much or if it actually allows for more simple streamlined play.

Remove all mana from play decks.  Use counters for the types of mana you want to use.  Each player then has the option of each turn to lay out one mana chip or using his cards in his hands, or play a mana chip and pay 1 life to play cards.  Essentially you are removing the need to place mana from your hand and then sacrificing a life to play cards on the turn you add mana to the game.

A very simple rule change, but it has grand effects on the play of the game.  Place mana and end turn, or don’t place mana and play cards, or place mana and pay 1 life and play cards.  It is a subtle tweak that allows for mana to be quickly infused into the game.

I will tell you how it fairs soon.  We are playing the variant this week.

War: Home Cooked Rules for Axis & Allies

My friends and I are big wargamers.  Each week we get together and play some kind of wargame or strategic flavored board, card, or computer game.  One of the biggest problems we have however is that some games are just a bit complex to set up.  Often the rules are a bit heavy too for just an evening of throwing dice and having fun.

I have come up with a set of very basic rules that we use with the board and game pieces with Axis & Allies.  It is very straight forward and has no historical context.  It is more akin to the old game of Risk than anything else.  We use a WWII map simply because it is easier for us to rationalize map places and values assigned to each zone. We like using the pieces of A&A because they are a bit more variety.

The motto is to keep it simple and easy.  Something you can put together in 15 minutes time.

Objective:  Whenever the game ends, the player with the highest zone points wins.

To Start:  Each player rolls 3 times on the chart below to get starting locations of their bases. Troops may start from any of these area, and areas that the player gains control in play.

1 Eastern Canada
2 Eastern US
3 Brazil
4 United Kingdom
5 Western Europe
6 Germany
7 Southern Europe
8 Eastern Europe
9 Ukraine
10 Karelia
11 Caucasus
12 Russia
13 India
14 French-Indo China
15 Kwanttung
16 Manchuria
17 Japan
18 Western US
19+ Pick

Sequence of Turn
1. Each player rolls 1d6, the highest goes first and then proceeds to the right. After all have gone, re-roll initiative.
2. Player to right rolls reinforcements (3d6) and places units & resolves.
3. Spend money on units, tech, and infrastructure
4. Move all units and resolves
5. Count cash and gather money

Each turn before the active player makes his purchases and moves his forces, the player to his right rolls for Reinforcements.   Roll 3d6 and place generated units in any number of non-player controlled zones. These forces can be placed anywhere and may or may not attack the active player’s positions.

Roll Results
3-5 1 Soldier
6 3 Soldiers
7-8 1 Tank
9-10 1 Soldier, 1 Fighter, 1 Tank
11 2 Soldiers and then moves up to 4 units. Can Attack
12 Battleship
13-14 1 Fighter
15 1 Submarine
16 2 Tank and then moves up to 4 units. Can Attack
17 2 Submarinea
18 Carrier & 3 Fighter

Spending Money
Each turn, the active player spends his money he earned from the end of his last action.  This money can be spent on infrastructure, technology, or units.

Infrastructure costs $5 and returns $1 per turn. A factory also reduces the cost of units by 1 if placed in the zone.

Soldier Cost=2 Move=1 Attack=1 Defend=2
Tank Cost=5 Move=2* Attack=3 Defend=2
AA Gun*** Cost=3 Move=0 Attack=0 Defend=1
Only land units can control land zones.

Fighter Cost=8 Move=5 Attack=3 Defend=4
Bomber Cost=12 Move=7 Attack=4 Defend=1
Aerial units can attack zones at 1d6 per attack, subtracting values from cash reserves.

Submarine Cost=10 Move=2 Attack=2** Defend=2
Transport# Cost=15 Move=1 Attack=1 Defend=1
Battleship Cost=25 Move=2 Attack=4 Defend=4
Carrier## Cost=25 Move=3 Attack=3 Defend=2

* If tank is not halted in any way, he can move 3 in a blitzkrieg
** The first attack of a submarine is at 3 not 2.
*** AA guns can only be used against Air units
# Transports can carry 4 land units
## Carriers can carry 4 Fighters

Cost is in dollars. Can be only spent at the beginning of each player’s turn.

Move is the number of land or sea spaces moved. Land units cannot go into the ocean, just as sea units cannot go onto land. Air units can traverse any zone.

Attack is the number or less on a 1d6 of striking a hit on a defender. An attack goes first, but a defender can retaliate. Any hit, causes the other side to remove units as they desire.

Defend is the number or less on a 1d6 of striking a hit on an attacker.

NPN (Non-Player Nation) Parley: If a player desires to move through zones and not seek to control or attack units, he rolls on the following table and resolves the action.

1d6 Result
1   Forces may pass through zone
2   Player pays 2 dollars to pass
3   Player pays 1 dollar per unit passing
4   Those units cannot move this turn (held up in diplomacy)
5   Units must engage any unit in zone
6   Add 1d6-2 soldiers to zone and then engage for at least 1 attack

To Control a Zone:  A ground unit must be in the zone. Air units do not count for control. Any NPN zone always has 2 Soldiers of militia and partisans when a player tries to gain control.

Winner: Highest points controlled
Dan Quayle Reward: Lowest points controlled

Technology: $5 gets you a 2 in 6 chance of success. Roll 3d6 for results

3d6 Results
3 Paratroopers: Soldiers can move 3 zones without need of Parley or sea support (ships aren’t required to move them).
4 MASH Units: Any Soldier removed from combat has a 1 in 6 chance of being healed. Place unit back in any starting zone.
5 Jets: +2 Move, +1 Attack and Defense to aerial units.
6 Strategic Bombers: Bombers can attack any zone on the same continent and return home.
7-10 Metallurgy: All zones values are increase +$1,
11-13 Advanced Armor: Any Tank destroyed in combat has a 1 in 6 chance of being repaired. Place back in any starting zone.
14-15 RADAR: AA guns Defend on a 3!!
16 Chemical Warfare: +1 to attack chances.
17 Rockets: Use AA guns to shoot 2 zones at a 2 attack.
18 Atomic Bomb: Cost $50 and any zone is annihilated. All forces are removed from the game.


The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends

I posted this fantastic video a couple of years ago and I never forgot it. It took me weeks to track it down, even on my own site (in my defense I will say that Emerald Tablet does go back seven years).  I think this is one of the great short films that strikes at the heart of competitive boardgames and how most of my friends feel.

I implore you to watch this video as it has real charm:

Top 5 Most Epic Speeches in Film

A recent discussion on the Osprey Publishing website about the 5 most influential weapons and then the 5 most incredible musical themes in war movies, made me think of the top 5 most epic speeches in film.  I found someone already assembled a master piece I present here:


I contend that the third movie selected is that of a fictional time and place, so perhaps I would have picked something different.

I would swap the third movie with the Henry V speech of the Eve of Saint Crispin:

Home Rules

I don’t know about you, but when my friends and I game we rarely play by the rules.  That sounds like cheating, but what I really mean is that we have our own set of house rules, or we take a couple of games and merge them together.  In essence, we make our own games up when we play.

Recently I took the old rules of Starfire and merged them with some rules from Silent Death, creating a hybrid Command & Conquer stellar empire game with a fast and fluid starship combat system.


Silent Death is a game from the old Iron Crown Enterprise.  The last I heard the company went out of business and then bought by a company in the United Kingdom.  I am sure that the Silent Death game met its doom many years ago.

I combined the complexity of Silent Death, with the ease and simplistic rules of Starfire.  Task Force Games is a long defunct game company that made many early strategic games such as StarFire and Starfleet Battles.






Combining the two makes for a fun and quick spaceship combat system.  Using the rules in Starfire III and some additional home cooked rules, my friends and I can continue the battles in a large galactic context.


Saturday Gaming

For as long as I can remember, Saturday has been game day.  Over the years we have played so many kinds of games.  For a very long time we played MMOs such as Everquest, World of Warcraft, or the late great game City of Heroes (I really miss that game).  But my friends and I have also played strategic games such as Civilization IV, Masters of Orion II, and lesser known turn based games.  In the old days, we used to all get together and play board games such as Settlers of Catan, Gladiator, Axis & Allies, or many other classic games.

Even further back in time was the era of the Role-Playing games such as my own Phantasm Adventures, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, or countless other great games.

These days I usually don’t have time to have friends over, but that doesn’t stop me from gaming.  Each Saturday we try to pick a game and play it either online or through a dedicated IP.

This week was something special because I got to do a little of everything.  I started the day out playing Hearthstone.  It is a fast little card game played online that reminds me of Magic the Gathering.


I started out loving the game, then I moved into my hating mood, but now I enjoy the game.  It has a learning curve and you need to play multiple decks to build up new cards.  When I first started playing I was losing most of the time, but now I think I am winning more than losing.


After playing Hearthstone for  a while, I moved on to playing Gladiator.  It is a very old game from Avalon Hill, but it is very fun.  Its old school and turns are slow and methodical.  The game is very tactical and you never know if you are going to win or lose until the very last turn.


After playing Gladiator for several hours, and having a bite to eat and stretching my legs, I sat down to play my favorite C&C game, Civilization IV.


In this game I was playing Boudica and was doing quite well until my friend said he didn’t like his civilization and his start.  So we restarted several times over the course of the night but each time something wasn’t quite right.  The last straw that broke the camel’s back was I forgot to turn on Raging Barbarians — we like that to keep the game vibrant.  In the end we agreed to break for the day and start tomorrow.

On Sundays we generally don’t game much, except for maybe an hour or two in the very early morning.

I look forward to next Saturday.  I really want to play some new games but waiting around until I get back from a trip to buy new games.

The Emerald Tablet is a text purporting to reveal the secrets of the universe


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,417 other followers