I’m joined this week by Steve Lubitz, host of the Off Curve podcast, a show about Hearthstone that Steve records while driving home from his job. He talked about the creation of Off Curve and how he has been a fan of Blizzard games since the original Diablo. He shares his thoughts on the differences between Hearthstone and other card games such as Magic: The Gathering.
We talk about the shifting Hearthstone meta, and how resources like Vicious Syndicate and Hearthstone Replay have changed the game for both the players and developers. Steve highlights some of the current challenges in Hearthstone including the lack of tournament mode and engaging end-game content for veteran players. We explore some ideas for how to keep the meta fresh, and answer a listener question about the possible mechanics that could be added to improve the game.
Enjoy the 33rd episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:
I am joined this episode by Eric Roth, a veteran tabletop player that was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. I first learned about Eric and his story of using games like Dungeons & Dragons for social connection through a brief video package that was picked up by a local news station in town.
I reached out to Eric, and he was kind enough to agree to an interview. In the episode, Eric talks about growing up with a physical disability and how that limited his activities and hobbies. He speaks about being introduced to Dungeons & Dragons 18 years ago, and how that has allowed him to develop social skills and confidence.
He discusses how other players and organizations can welcome players with disabilities into the hobby – such as allowing extra time and space for new players to be comfortable at the table. He also contemplates what it would be like for a character with a physical disability to be featured on the cover of a future D&D manual. He speaks about his eagerness for the upcoming Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica and how he thinks the setting from Magic: The Gathering will inspire great D&D games.
Enjoy the 30th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:
This week I’m joined by Chris Benefield, a longtime friend I first met during our days in graduate school way back in 1998. Chris has a masters degree in Educational Psychology, and is now working toward an advanced degree to become a school counselor. In the episode, we discuss our history of arguing, “Who is the bigger nerd?” and explore how social comparison theory affects geekdom, “Sure, I’m a nerd – but I’m not THAT nerdy.” I ask Chris why he cannot get into tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and he asks me why I’m unwilling to dive into Magic: The Gathering (MtG). He discusses the merits of MtG, and we explore how games like Hearthstone, SolForge, and Eternal scratch a similar itch. We delve into our approaches to mindfully engage in our hobbies and time management, which leads into our use of social media – for better and sometimes worse. Along the way, we review our trip to GenCon 2012, and talk about trying to remain a nerd while parenting young children.
Enjoy the episode, and please provide feedback if you would like Chris and I to continue recording similar discussions as we are considering spinning this off into a separate podcast.
Enjoy the 14th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:
My health is quickly draining away as fallen heroes on both sides of the conflict litter the battlefield. My trusted ally, Tarsus Deathweaver, who has been providing bonuses to attack and health to my party, was vanquished by the relentless Zimus, The Undying, a powerful undead soldier who earlier dispatched my female cleric in flowing white robes. The tension mounts as I know Zimus will be the death of me soon. I shift my attention to the diminutive Arboris Dragon, who has been quietly accompanying my party. He plots his next move and sends a Glowhive Siren to block Zimus’ next charge. The crafty Arboris knows her death will not be in vain. As Zimus splits the Siren in two with his mighty battle axe, her life force grants me and the party new life. Arboris absorbs this life and swells to enormous size and now towers over the battlefield. My pulse rises as I cast the perfect spell for such a moment, and it grants the mighty dragon the power to breakthrough all defenses. Even the legendary champion, Oros, the Chosen with his majestic two-handed sword is not enough to fight off the dragon’s onslaught. Arboris unleashes a devastating attack to vanquish my foes. I take in the outcome of the battle, and exhale. It was a close call for this group of adventurers but more glory awaits. There is always another foe to conquer.
At the moment, I’m not sitting around a table playing Dungeons & Dragons with a group of friends. I’m in the passenger seat of my wife’s car as she is driving us to a family gathering, and she is quite annoyed with the fact that I’m buried knuckles-deep in my iPhone playing a deck building game against a stranger.
Last Spring, my Twitter feed became slowly infested with #Ascension tweets. I was busy playing in two Dungeons & Dragons campaigns at that time and did not know what the hashtag meant. But one thing became clear; people were having a great time playing a specific game called Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. My first exposure to Ascension came at Gen Con 2012, where I was able to play the game at the Gary Games booth. As someone who only played a few rounds of games such as Magic: The Gathering and Dominion, the game play was familiar enough to quickly grasp the rules. I played several games of Ascension at the booth and soon after returning home from Gen Con, I bought the iOS version – I’ve been hooked ever since!
Recently, I learned that Gary Games – the company that launched Ascension and its numerous Expansion Sets – is now Stone Blade Entertainment. The company is in the process of releasing a new game, SolForge, and I was able to communicate with the CEO of Stone Blade Entertainment and creator of Ascension and SolForge, Justin Gary. In the interview below, I pry into the development of his self-contained deck-building game and how it is both similar and different to the Magic: The Gathering behemoth. I inquire about the mechanics of Ascension and how they have evolved throughout the expansion sets. He also discusses the collaboration with Dr. Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering, on their new game, SolForge.
Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions. Diving right in, I became hooked on Ascension after playing it for the first time during Gen Con 2012. The game felt more alive and interactive than previous deck-building games I’ve played like Dominion or Thunderstone. How much of this was purposeful during your design process?
Certainly game variance and excitement were some of the key goals of designing Ascension. One of the problems I always had with games like Dominion, is that once the available cards are determined, there is very little excitement and drama left in the game. Every game of Ascension is different and card valuations change dramatically based on when they are revealed and what your opponents are playing.