[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was originally posed on 2011-11-06.]

(I seem to be ready for my trip to Chicago)

I’m not sure of the efficacy of commodity grains in producing beard hair, but with the application of sausage and bacon, you certainly can produce a manly breakfast. But I suppose the application of sausage and bacon makes just about any meal more manly. A shame they don’t trade pork belly futures any more.
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[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was originally posted on 2011-11-05.]

(Prepared to defend myself from my Day Four avatar)

Enjoy the full whiskerage while you can — I’m in a wedding tomorrow and so while abiding by the rules I will have to trim the neck region to avoid looking too disreputable. In the meantime, I hope my armament will be enough to protect my six cities.
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[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was originally posted on 2011-11-04.]

(… You see, he thinks I’m crazy. And I’m the President. So I’ve got the box. Damn straight.)

I think the beard growth is going to my head — I’ve been having some funny thoughts about world domination. Unfortunately, my donations are still running a little low. Thanks to those who donated already, but if I don’t get some more soon, I may blow up a little.
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3
Jul

HoNoToGroABeMo Day Three: It’s On…

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games

[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was originally posted on 2011-11-03.]

(Some days you just feel the need to toss a barrel at a mustachioed hero)

It’s early in the month still, but not so early that I can’t start working out to prepare for the manly contests to come. I’m sure lifting brewing equipment is exceedingly good for beard growth. I can feel my follicles straining as I type this.
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2
Jul

HoNoToGroABeMo Day Two: Chance

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games

[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was
originally posted on 2011-11-02.]

(My Great-Great-Grandfather worked on the Baltimore & Ohio)

Today I’m stepping it up a bit, and going for something a little more dapper. Not much to report beard-wise — just a little prickly but otherwise nothing special to this normally scruffy engineer.
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1
Jul

HoNoToGroABeMo Day One: Dot Dot Dot

   Posted by: Jim   in General

[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards during the month of November to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was originally posted on 2011-11-01.]

Eat that dot
(wakawakawakawaka)

I’m running a little behind everyone as I have this thing called an anniversary on Halloween, so taking time off to shave and take pictures is not considered good form. But here you are, shaved freshly at 6:30 this morning.

In honor of my sadly defunct podcast, I’m going with a vintage gaming theme this year. I suspect this one won’t be all that difficult for all the old fogies on this site to figure out.

30
Jun

The Return of HoNoToGroABeMo

   Posted by: Jim   in General

Back in 2007, a visionary named Kris Johnson had a brilliant idea. Earlier that year, the podcaster Evo Terra was doing daily posts showing his 5-o’clock shadow. Kris thought it would be fun to do the same, but sadly the results were barely visible. Inspired by National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), he decided instead to grow a beard for the entire month of November and record it for posterity on his blog. And given his lack of previous success, he decided to call it How Not To Grow A Beard Month, or HoNoToGroABeMo.

In 2008, he was joined in his quest by other deficiently hirsute individuals on a website built by Bob Voegerl. And in 2009, I joined them (though in truth I can produce a pretty decent and might I say crackling manhedge). That year, Bob decided to put a little more skin into the game, as it were, and turned it into a charity contest where the beard grower who raised the most money would be declared the winner, with all the gloating privileges one would expect — the charity in this case being breast cancer research, in memory of his mother. We continued raising money and making people laugh with our facial hair until 2013, after which it sort of petered out and the site was eventually lost to the mists of the Internet.

“Okay,” you say, “that’s very entertaining and all, but what does any of this have to do with games?” Well, in 2011, in order to encourage more charitable giving I decided to give my posts a theme — namely, vintage games. And since the HoNoGroABeMo site is now defunct, I thought it’d be fun to repost them here (thanks to Bob for helping me recover the old data). So for the month of July, sit back and relax as I return to the time of the Arab Spring, the last flight of the Space Shuttle, and when Mission Impossible, Transformers, and the latest J.K. Rowling opus were all in the theaters (okay, maybe things haven’t changed that much). Hope you enjoy it!

1
Nov

Review – King of New York

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games

Lately I’ve been noticing an increase of Ukrainian hackers trying to break into my site. So after increasing security accordingly, I caught sight of the date of my last post here, and thought, “Hm, perhaps they think this blog is up for grabs.” Which is a slightly long way of saying: Here come some new game reviews…

Designer: Richard Garfield
Artists: Sébastien Lamirand, Igor Polouchine, Régis Torres, Alexey Yakovlev
Publisher: IELLO
Players: 2-6
Playing time: 40 minutes
Age range: 10+

Picture of King of New York

Back in *mumblemumble* 2013, I did a review of the original king-of-the-hill dice game, King of Tokyo. King of New York is an update of that by the same designer. Generally it’s the same game: 1 or 2 people try to hold territory against other players and score points for each round they remain there. Those on the hill can attack all the other players at once while the other players can only do damage against those the hill. The penalty for remaining on the hill is that you can’t heal damage via the dice, nor can you retreat until attacked. You can also collect energy (i.e., money) which you can use to buy action and upgrade cards. The player who reaches 20 point or outlasts everyone else wins the game.
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1
Feb

Other D&D Items of Note

   Posted by: Jim   in Role-playing games

To follow up from my previous post, a few more D&D anniversary items of note that I’ve run across in the past few days (if you haven’t seen them already):

First, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) presents a video called A History of D&D in 12 Treasures, in which he lays out the game’s pre-history via 12 rare or unpublished objects.

Another video is a trailer for a documentary about D&D called The Great Kingdom, which looks like it could be interesting (warning: Zeppelin soundtrack).

Finally, a couple of great posts reminiscing about D&D: the first from Matt Forbeck, the second from Ethan Gilsdorf.

For more thorough coverage of the web’s thoughts on D&D’s 40 anniversary, you might also check out this post on Dungeons and Dreamers, in which I’m honored to be included.

D&D

When Gary Gygax died, I considered doing a podcast covering Dungeons and Dragons, but then I got busy and the moment passed.

A year or so later, when Dave Arneson died, I considered the same, but work was eating up all of my time, and again it didn’t happen.

So now, here it is the 40th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons. And I am once again utterly unprepared with any sort of recording. But despite that, I can’t let this moment go by with notice.

I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons in 1977. I had loved games up to that point — my family regularly played traditional (i.e. Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley) board games and card games, but nothing beyond that. My mother bought it for me (possibly due to my interest in Tolkien) and introduced me to a new world. I quickly shared it with my friends, and our regular lunchtime games of penny hockey and paper football became dungeon crawlers. We role-played at lunch for years, quickly upgrading to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, then expanding to other games such as Dragonquest, Runequest, Villains and Vigilantes, Traveller and Top Secret (some of which I’ve covered as podcasts). The friendships I built there carried me through some of the worst of middle school, and through high school.

The new world of games I discovered was broader than role-playing games. In seeking other players and shops that sold D&D modules, I discovered wargames, and some of the hobby games that were becoming more available to the broader public at that time. I slowly became hooked on games in general.

Love of video games was even driven by love of D&D. Just down the street from me, an early form of gaming cafe opened. The owner had bought a set of Apple IIs, and would let people rent floppy discs (for the save files) and come play the games he had available. I, of course, would go play Wizardry for hours on end. The cafe eventually closed, and I, in desperation to play a computer RPG, wrote my own based on the random encounter and room placement tables in the Dungeon Master’s guide (I did, however, rewrite armor class increase in number as it increased in strength, and to absorb damage).

D&D even inspired me to buy my first copy of National Lampoon (scandalous, I know). After school one day, I took a long bus trip to the west side of Buffalo, seeking a small shop which sold crystal dice and various other role-playing paraphernalia. After getting the dice — and come to think of it, my copy of Top Secret — I stopped into a convenience store and saw the Sword and Sorcery issue. Fate, I figured, so I bought it. I still have that magazine, stashed in my Basic D&D box.

I stopped role-playing for the most part after high school, taking it up again briefly with my co-workers when I entered the game industry (Shadowrun and Mage) and continuing up to the point when D&D 3rd Edition came out. But our group petered out and so I returned my dice back to their bags, with only occasional one-off adventures. But as you can see from the above, despite my leaving role-playing, D&D has never really left me.

So what would have that podcast included? Well, the plan was to do a revised history of D&D, covering David Wesely as the originator of proto-roleplaying games, and speculating on the actual contributions of Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax to what eventually got published as D&D. However, since my itch to do that, the book Playing at the World by Jon Peterson has come out. It discusses the early days of miniature wargaming and reportedly has excellent coverage of the history of D&D, with much better documentation than I could have dug up (if you’re not already aware of it, Peterson is also the one pushing January 26th as the publication date of D&D, based on his research). You can also check out his blog, with treatment beyond the book. Fred Hicks, of Evil Hat fame, also has a good history of D&D as well — you can read a portion of it here. So read those books, and whenever you throw the dice, think of Arneson and Gygax, the ones who started it all.

(Oh, and before I go, let me tell you about my character. His name is Manthridor, and he’s a half-elven fighter-mage… wait, come back… I haven’t told you the best part…)