Understanding BattleTech

After years away from the world of BattleTech, Harebrained Schemes’ new BattleTech PC game has sucked me back into the 31st century. As a kid I was a huge fan of BattleTech and devoured its novels. But despite having the base game, AeroTech, and BattleSpace, I only played a few games of it. One of the things I longed for was a double blind game, and the new game has finally given me it.

So how does this relate to analog games you might ask? Well, the original tabletop game was also released in Japan and was translated by Group SNE, the makers of Sword World. It had its own revised mech designs and some of the novels were translated, but it didn’t seem to take off as much as one might have expected.

Fantasy File Guides

I have have a soft spot for old Fantasy File Fujimi Dragon Books. Riding the TRPG renaissance of the early nineties, Continue reading Understanding BattleTech

Role and Roll Magazine

Following up on our look at Japanese TRPG magazines and then Game Mastery Magazine, we’ll next look at Role and Roll magazine. The issue I have at hand is volume 140 published in June 2016. Weighing in at 138 pages and A4 in size, there’s quite a bit of content for 1,200 Yen (~$12 USD). The majority of the content is black and white, but a few ads are in full color.

Role and Roll is published by Arclight and has been in print since 2003. It covers a variety of games, and while primarily focused on TRPGs, it also has some board game coverage as well. If you’re interested in what the very first issue was like, Continue reading Role and Roll Magazine

Game Mastery Magazine and Sword World

Last time we took a general look at analog game magazines in Japan, but this time we’ll dig into Game Mastery Magazine. Game Mastery Magazine is published by Group SNE and focuses on their various games. Published in March, volume 3 focuses on the history of Sword World and takes a peak at what is coming this summer with version 2.5. In addition to its Sword World coverage, it’s packed with articles about various TRPGs and board games. A4 in size, it is 162 pages and sells for 1,800 yen (roughly $18). Printed mostly in black and white, there are several full color sections. It’s available at local game shops as well as Amazon Japan

Continue reading Game Mastery Magazine and Sword World

Games at Hama-con

A question I often hear is, “what TRPGs are popular in Japan?” I recently saw a flyer for a large TRPG convention, and thought it’d be interesting to look at the games being played.

Before we jump into the specifics, “convention” can mean anything from a small monthly event with a table or two to large events with dozens of tables. They also range from general TRPG conventions to single-system-only conventions, where only one game system is played (e.g. Sword World only).

Continue reading Games at Hama-con

Babel

Continuing on the success of Pandemic: Iberia over New Years with my wife, we next tried the balance game Babel.

Babel Box

Box Contents

Babel comes in a sturdy box with a nice pulp texture to it. It can be played with 1 to 5 players and takes 15-30 minutes. The version we played was the new version that came out in 2017. The previous version came out in 2016 and had some differences with the components.

Unboxing Babel

In the box are 36 wall cards, 45 blue print cards, 10 base cards, one ceiling card, and 5 language cards, plus the instruction booklet. The components are well-made and sturdy. Appropriate to its biblical namesake, Hebrew is used as a design element on the cards.

Babel Contents

Continue reading Babel

Hands on Hanamikoji

Hanamikoji contents - 7 geisha cards and 7 types of tool cards. Victory and action tokens. Rules in multiple languages

It’s hard to believe that it’s already New Year’s Eve! I had fun playing Hanamikoji a few times with my wife the other night. Taking its name from a famous street in Kyoto, it is a beautifully illustrated game about earning the favors of geisha by giving them the tools they specialize in. While a simple and fast game to play, there’s a lot of thought and reading of the other player that goes into each round. Continue reading Hands on Hanamikoji

Hands on Shinobi Empire

I finally had a chance to play Shinobi Empire, one of the games I got at the last Game Market. I found it to be an easy to pick up and lighthearted game that was fun to play. One of the coolest things about this game is the cards themselves. Each card has a unique image, a mix of cute and cool, and they form a neat multi-storied castle as you play.

Instructions, 35 tokens, and 54 cards
Instructions, 35 tokens, and 54 cards

Players choose a set of seven colored tokens that correspond to the color of the ninjas they receive points for. Each player is dealt a hand of five cards. The player who is wearing the simplest clothes (most ninja-like) goes first, with play proceeding clockwise. A turn consists of a player drawing a card from the deck and then placing one card.

Continue reading Hands on Shinobi Empire

Thank you, Mr Wizards

My 5th edition D&D Player’s Handbook finally failed its third death save and succumbed to the curse of early editions losing their pages. I had heard that this was a common problem and that Wizards of the Coast had a replacement program, but I assumed that shipping to Japan would complicate the replacement. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth as I received this wonderful response to my request: Continue reading Thank you, Mr Wizards