Twenty Sided Store

A retail store and event space in Williamsburg Brooklyn that focuses on high quality Board Games, Role Playing Games, and Magic: The Gathering.

If you are in a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign (or several, like I am), then the fun you experience week to week is because of the hard work and creativity of your Dungeon Master (DM) puts in session after session.

DMs don’t do this work for the praise or accolades, of course, but your DM is someone well deserving of a gift to show your appreciation for all the fun they provide.

At Twenty Sided Store, we have more than a few ideas to you celebrate Dungeon Master Master Appreciation Month.

SPELL CARDS

If you play a spellcaster in D&D 5th Edition, then you know how tough it is to keep track of your spells, especially when you get to higher levels. Now imagine that, but with multiple spellcasters, and you have to keep track of the larger battle at the same time. That can be a lot of paperwork, or a lot of flipping back-and-forth through the Player’s Handbook, which nobody wants in the middle of your big boss fight.

The Gale Force 9 D&D Spell Cards take that bit of book-keeping off the GM’s mind, so they can focus more on making your battle memorable. Every spell in the PHB is printed on these cards, as well as the supplemental spells from the Princes of the Apocalypse storyline, so they’ll never be caught wondering what that spell does.

If you’re getting your DM their first set of Spell Cards, I’d start with the “Arcane” deck. That covers wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers: the widest swath of spells your GM is likely to need. If they’ve already started collecting the Spell Card decks, try a sheet of card holders for three-ring binders. It helps keep the Spell Cards organized by type and is infinitely expandable.

BACKSTORY CARDS

Truly memorable NPCs are hard to come by. The DM usually starts with nothing more than a one-sentence descriptor to inform their roleplaying, and that’s if they’re lucky. Like an actor studying for a role, the DM spends a lot of time thinking about their NPCs: their mannerisms, what makes them unique, and how they impact the world and the Player Characters. It’s hard work, and if you want to make it a little easier, give the gift of creativity, in the form of Backstory Cards.

Developed by Brooklyn Indie Games, Backstory Cards help players and DMs come up with a group backstory for almost any type of roleplaying game, solving the “you-all-meet-in-a-tavern” problem. While they’re great for players to figure out why they’re all together and adventuring, Backstory Cards can also help a DM come up with stories for factions, gangs, and other groups you might encounter in your adventure. The GM will have fun getting their imagination kickstarted, and you’ll benefit from having more fleshed-out, more real NPCs to color your adventures with.

WORLD’S GREATEST GAME SCREEN

Game Screens are awesome. They’re a symbol of the DM’s position at the table, and help keep the game organized and running smoothly. Branded DM screens are unique to the system that they’re written for. What if you’re running a D&D game one week, and next week have to transition into Call of Cthulhu or Pathfinder? Even simpler, what if you’re running multiple editions of D&D at a convention? You could get a specific DM screen for each system you want to run, but a simpler (and cheaper) solution is the World’s Greatest Game Screen from Hammerdog Games.

The WGGS is a blank DM screen made of durable materials with clear pockets on the front and back so the DM can slide in whatever artwork or game system info they need. This allows the DM with eclectic tastes to transition the same screen from game to game and customize it to fit their needs specifically. Even better, it comes in both portrait and landscape modes, for the DM that needs to see the table or the DM that wants maximum privacy.

CHAMBER BAND’S “DEITIES” ON VINYL

Has your group heard of Chamber Band? If not, they’re missing out. They’re a Brooklyn-based band (and friends of the store) that blends alternative, folky rock with nerdy themes. Their first record, “Deities” is of special interest to the role-player because it features songs inspired by the gods found in AD&D 1st Edition. But beyond simple fan-service, these songs stand on their own as fun tunes that span the gamut of raucous rockers to melancholy and sad. When I’m in my office, thinking about the next game, “Deities” tends to get at least one spin on the turntable.

Speaking of which, their album is available on vinyl, which makes an awesome gift for a DM that prefers their music in analog. As a bonus, every copy of the physical record comes with a download code for 8-bit a-cappella remixes of all the songs on “Deities.” Two albums for the price of one!

(Note: if Greyhawk gods and vinyl aren’t your DM’s bag, then perhaps they’d like Chamber Band’s second record, “Careers.” Instead of the D&D theme, the songs on this album are inspired by The Hunger Games, and it features a cover of “One Headlight” that is worth the price of the album alone.)

Or, if a physical gift isn’t a possibility for whatever reason, you can give your Dungeon Master the gift they will always love…

OFFER TO RUN A ONE-SHOT

Being a Dungeon Master is hard work, and DM burnout is a real thing. So, if you’re feeling very generous, do your part to help your DM’s sanity and offer to take the reigns for one game.

A one-shot can be anything: a supplemental story to the main story, a flashback, a focus on another part of the world, or a trip into a completely different world or system that would be a fun diversion. My D&D group is made up of people who are all very good Dungeon Masters in their own right. We rotate active DMs, but if our scheduled DM can’t make it for whatever reason, another DM steps in and we play a game that builds out another part of our larger campaign world. This means there’s always a game, and the DM doesn’t feel obligated to carry the entire game on their shoulders.

If you’re not an experienced DM and are nervous about stepping behind the screen for the first time, it’s okay. There are plenty of rules-light, story-heavy games that require very little prep can can be useful in getting some experience as a Dungeon Master while giving your regular DM a break. (We’ll talk more about those next time.)

Also remember, most Dungeon Masters started out their careers as players, and fell in love with the game on the other side of the screen. DM-ing can be very rewarding and creatively fulfilling, but it’s not the same as being a player. The best thing you can do for your Dungeon Master is to give them the chance to be a player again, to come to the game with nothing prepared and ready to have fun.

So those are our tips for celebrating Dungeon Master’s appreciation month this February!

You can find all of these products and more at Twenty Sided Store.

Saturday 1/23 - Sunday 1/24

We are doing three events this weekend:

  • Saturday 11am - Sealed SIGN UP!
  • Saturday 5pm - Two-Headed Giant Sealed SIGN UP
  • Sunday ALL DAY - On demand drafts (SIGN UP IN STORE ONLY)

Sealed

We're kicking off at 11am with a sealed event. Each player receives 4 Oath of the Gatewatch and 2 Battle for Zendikar boosters. With those packs you build a minimum 40 card deck.

Details

Date: Saturday, 1/23
Start: 11am
Format: OGW / BFZ Sealed
Rounds: 4 rounds of Swiss
Entry: $29.99 per player

Prize Support

4-0: 8 packs
3-1: 4 packs
2-2: 2 packs
< 2 match wins: 1 pack

Two-Headed Giant Sealed

Oath of the Gatewatch has Two-Headed Giant Sealed in mind! We're doing a three round team event. Seating will be extremely limited. Make sure to sign up early!

Details

Date: Saturday, 1/23
Start: 5pm
Format: OGW / BFZ Two-Headed Giant Sealed
Rounds: 3 rounds of Swiss
Entry: $29.99 per player

Prize Support (per team)

3-0: 8 packs
2-1: 4 packs
< 2 match wins: 2 packs

Draft Day

Stoked for the new set? Want to crack some packs?! We've got you covered!

We've never done anything like this before, and we're excited to offer it! We'll be able to fire off a ton of drafts, with each event being single elimination - and at a lower price than normal.

Win just one match, and you'll win a prize pack! Win 2 for 2 packs, win the draft get 4 packs.

Your prize packs can also pay with prize packs! Packs earned this day can be used towards events on Draft Day ($3 off per prize pack).

Details

Date: Sunday, 1/24
Start: Noon
Format: OGW / BFZ Draft
Rounds: 3 rounds, Single Elimination
Entry: $12

Prize Support

3-0: 4 packs
2-0-1: 3 packs
2-1: 2 packs
1-1: 1 pack

Welcome to 2016, everyone! Hope you had a great holiday, and if you stopped by the store for our pre-release of “Oath of the Gatewatch,” we hope you had a great time! If you didn’t come out for the prerelease, there will be some great events for release weekend, so sign up on our events page and stop on by!

This week, I wanted to take some time to highlight some games I played over the holiday break. All these games carry a big recommendation from me and range from cooperative horror to deduction to card-based fighting. If you’re looking for a new game to start your “Play more games” New Year’s resolution, you can do worse than starting here!

Games

FURY OF DRACULA

Since last Halloween, I’ve been on a serious vampire kick, specifically related to Bram Stoker’s iconic novel “Dracula”. I’ve re-watched the Francis Ford Coppala adaptation (still holds up). I’ve re-read the book — Pro Tip: if you’re looking for a great audio version of “Dracula”, I highly recommend Audible’s fantastic full-cast read with Alan Cummings and Tim Curry headlining the cast. — and I’ve immersed myself in as much vampire lore as I can get my hands on. So when a board game called “Fury of Dracula” came into the store during one of my shifts, I immediately set about learning how to play it.

Turns out this is the third edition of a game that has been around since 1987, originally published by Games Workshop and re-published by good ol’ Fantasy Flight Games in 2006. “Fury of Dracula” is an asymmetric deduction game where one player takes on the role of Count Dracula and all other players play as vampire hunters from the book (Prof. Van Helsing, Lord Godalming, Dr. John Steward, and Mina Harker.) Set years after the novel, Dracula survived his previous ordeal and re-emerges somewhere in Western Europe. The vampire hunters must traverse across the continent, searching for clues and gathering helpful supplies, while Dracula moves in secret across the board, siring vampire spawn and laying traps in the path of his pursuers. Dracula earns “Influence” by allowing his vampire spawn to mature, by his trail going cold, or by attacking and defeating the vampire hunters. If Dracula gets to 13 influence, he wins the game. The vampire hunters, on the other hand, are trying to pick up on the Count’s trail, corner him, and put an end to him once and for all.

I’ve described “Fury of Dracula” as playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” if one of the players was Carmen Sandiego, trying to avoid being caught. Being a Fantasy Flight game, the production value is excellent. The board is beautifully printed, and as you can imagine, there are components galore. My only complaints are that the rules are so streamlined from previous editions that vagaries in how mechanics interact can pop up, and the rulebook isn’t much help. It’s a game that could use an official errata in a big, bad way. Also, Dracula’s mini, while well sculpted, has a very “jack-o-lantern” face that is hard to imagine as the steel-faced Count. But that’s a minor gripe, and I have several other vampire miniatures that can stand in for Dracula just fine.

DECEPTION: MURDER IN HONG KONG

“Deception: Murder in Hong Kong” is a deduction-based liar game that we recently started carrying at the store, and has quickly become one of Lauren’s favorite games to demo. But before we continue, a brief break for semantics; a “liar” game differs from a “traitor” game. A traitor game, like “Shadows over Camelot” or “Dead of Winter” gives the traitor mechanics to hide behind, a turn sequence or card effects that can misdirect from your evil intentions. A liar game is a game where the only defense that the defector has is to straight-up lie to everyone. There is no other recourse. I am not good at liar games. In fact, I’m comically bad at liar games, to the point where I’ve taken the advice from the WOPR supercomputer in “WarGames”: “The only winning move is to not play.”

That said, I do admire “Deception: Murder in Hong Kong” and its approach to the mystery-game format. The players are murder investigators trying to deduce a crime with the help of one player who is designated as the “forensic scientist.” Each player, sans the forensic scientist, has ten cards in front of them: five “means of murder” cards and five “key evidence” cards. The catch is that one of the players is the murderer and must indicate to the forensic scientist one of each type of card in front of them as their chosen cards for the game. Then, the forensic scientist, through the use of various lists and indicators (in the shape of bullets), must silently guide the team to deduce the clues that will lead them to the murderer, their means of murder, and what key evidence cracked the case wide open.

After the last bullet is placed, each player has a short amount of time to state their case and their suspicions uninterrupted. Once everyone has had a chance to speak, another list is added to the mix and another bullet placed to further define the clues. After three rounds of clue-giving and deliberation, if the players have not correctly identified the murderer and their selected cards, then the murderer gets away scot-free. At any time in the game, a player may literally turn in their badge and make a guess. If they get any part of their guess wrong, then their badge is forfeited and play continues. Badge-less players may still participate in the deliberations, but cannot make any further attempts to solve the murder.

I’ll admit that I have a lot more fun playing “Deception: Murder in Hong Kong” as an innocent investigator than as a murderer. There are times when the murderer gets lucky and the forensic scientist has to really stretch to make the clues fit, or they cleverly pick cards that could be mistaken for other cards on the board. But in the times that I played and was the murderer (currently batting a 0.500 average in my career as a murderer), it was obvious who the murderer was and all eyes were pointed at me in the first round. Granted, it is still possible to win even if you flat-out admit your murdering ways; the Investigators still have to guess your chosen cards. There are also some additional player archetypes (the “Accomplice” and the “Witness”, to be exact) that I haven’t played with yet, but I would like to give those a shot in the future.

Just know that if you’re sitting at the table with me, no matter how many people are playing, there is at least a 50% chance that I did it.

WWE SUPERSTAR SHOWDOWN

I make no secret that I’m a wrestling fan. In fact, I’m writing this bit in my favorite Daniel Bryan shirt for maximum synergy, and these 2000-ish-word columns are my WrestleMania 30. I just hope I don’t get sidelined with a concussion after hitting “publish” and have to drop my belt to someone else on the roster. (Side note: We miss you, Daniel! Come back to us, Yes Man!)

Anyway, when I discovered this new WWE-branded board game by Gale Force Nine, I knew that I was going to have to check it out someday. Well, it arrived on Christmas Eve and I got a chance to run a few demos for people. Imagine my surprise to find out that it’s not just a quick cash-in with a marketable logo on it, but a well-made game that packs a lot of theme into not a lot of components.

The basic game revolves around a single one-on-one match featuring current WWE talent like the aforementioned Daniel Bryan along with Randy Orton, Big E Langston, the Big Show, Roman Reigns, and John Cena. The gameplay is resolved through cards. Each SuperStar has their own deck designed to reflect their style and move-set. For example, Big Show and John Cena are primarily strikers, while Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton rely more on maneuvers. Each round, the players in the ring select three cards from their hand to play this round. They flip the first card over simultaneously and compare the results in a rock-paper-scissors resolution mechanic, with a “Slam” card trumping all other cards. The winning card gets to perform its actions, and play progresses to the next card.

After a full round is resolved, the players compare who had the most winning cards in that round. If the winner is in the ring and adjacent to their opponent in a non-diagonal space, they can go for the pin. When pinned, a player can play a card with a “kick-out” symbol from their hand to escape the pin, or must roll cards off their deck for the three-count. If a kick-out isn’t played by the third card, the wrestler is pinned, the winner’s music hits, and the crowd goes wild.

Throughout the game, the players will move their wrestler around the ring, bounce off of ropes, and perform high-flying moves off the turnbuckle to damage their opponent. Damage is measured in cards that the damaged player must “give up” to their opponent, effectively burning them from play. The deck measures the wrestler’s stamina. The more cards they give up, the more tired they are becoming, can rely on fewer moves, and are more susceptible to being pinned. Players can play “Block” cards out of their hands to prevent damage, but these cards are given up to their opponent, so you will eventually run out of tricks and will be forced to take damage. If your deck runs out of cards to give up, then you are considered knocked out and you lose the match.

While I did have a lot of fun playing “WWE Superstar Showdown,” there are a few nagging problems that keep eating at me. First, I hope that, if Gale Force Nine is allowed to make expansions, they give serious thought to either the NXT or Women’s division. (I refuse to call WWE female wrestling talent “Divas.”) Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the rulebook could’ve gone through one or two more rounds of copy editing. It’s helpful, but I was referencing it constantly and that doesn’t make for good demo. Do yourself a favor; if you do play this game, look up an actual-play video online. It’ll be of more help.

Based on my predisposition to wrestling, I figured I was going to like this game. I was cracking in-jokes and playing the entrance music for the wrestlers in the match for that extra level of authenticity. But everyone else I played with was impressed with the game as well. These weren’t my fellow marks playing the game; they were regular people who aren’t as invested in the product as I am and they still had fun. That speaks to the elegance of the design. Gale Force Nine crammed an incredible amount of theme into a board and a small deck of cards, an experience that (in some ways) rivals that of the “WWE 2k”-series of video games. If you are a wrestling fan, it’s an easy buy. If you aren’t a wrestling fan but know someone who is, you might get a kick out of playing it with them.

THE SHADOW OVER WESTMINSTER

Let’s see: co-op game? Check. Deck builder? Check? Horror atmosphere? Check. Extreme likelihood of failure? Super-check. Sign me up!

“The Shadow of Westminster” scratches the same itch that “Betrayal at House on the Hill” and “Pandemic” do: a co-op game with an anxiety-inducing premise that will punish you very harshly for bad play, but is just as much fun to lose as it is to win. The players take the role of Agents in London that are beginning to see signs of a coming darkness, or “cataclysm” as the game puts it. They must work together to deal with cataclysm-related disturbances in the city while also researching the cataclysm, acquiring useful artifacts and knowledge, and keeping the whole affair on the down-low. The Agents are opposed by “darkness” that creeps up in different locations and threatens to set back their progress. Like in “Pandemic,” those locations can only take so much darkness before the darkness engulfs the area, progress is lost, and the world gets that much closer to destruction. Also, like in “Betrayal,” the players don’t know what the end-game victory condition is until the Cataclysm is revealed through play. But if darkness ever engulfs the Cataclysm, you and the world are lost.

What sets “Westminster” apart from the previously mentioned games is that the game is primarily a cooperative deck-builder. Players spend and discard cards to accomplish tasks, acquire more cards, and build their deck up to be the most effective. Thrown into that mix are Exposure cards, which take up space in your hand and prevent you from accomplishing things. Exposure is acquired by fleeing an active investigation, being caught at a location when darkness engulfs it, or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Managing your exposure is crucial to effective play. When the world ends, you don’t want the last photo taken of you to be on the front page of the National Inquirer.

This game was a finalist on Cards Against Humanity’s “Tabletop Deathmatch” YouTube show and turned to Kickstarter to achieve its first print run. I backed the game early in the campaign and even got to demo it at PAX East with the game’s designer, Robert Huss. I will note for the record that our demo was the first group to beat the Cataclysm at that PAX. #Humblebrag. After a few delays in production, it shipped to backers at the end of 2015 and I got my copy right before Christmas. I’ve been playing it ever since and it has only grown on me more and more. I hope that more copies get printed so it can reach a wider audience than those initial Kickstarter backers. Until then, “The Shadow Over Westminster” will sit proudly next to “Pandemic” and “Betrayal” on my shelf. If you can find a copy or get a chance to play it, it’s worth your time.


That’s all for now. If there are any new games you’ve been trying out, or games that we recommended that were big hits over the holiday break, let us know! I’ll be tweaking my white/green Ally deck to ramp faster, but I’ll be back next week. Until then, happy gaming!

Oracle of Eights #147- Sweet Delight Many articles about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions referenced the same concerns for 2016, so I thought I would take this moment to comment on the internet’s Top 10. Here goes...

1. Travel More

This is definitely something I would like to do in 2016. Since Luis and I opened Twenty Sided Store, we have not had a chance to go on a real vacation. I would love to visit Machu Picchu.

2. Listen to My Favorite Music More

I have been listening to this amazing radio station out of Seattle Washington - KEXP. John in the Morning has introduced me to so much new music in 2015, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for 2016.

3. Dress More Like My Style

I have really been into Jumpsuits lately. I would like one for every day of the week so I never have to think about my outfit and I can always look fashionable.

4. Stop Hating

Hating takes up so much energy and time - it is totally not worth it. It is like a virus spreading to everyone who comes in contact with it. With the internet in our pocket it is so easy to message our feelings in the moment. Lets all take the time to literally sleep on it and if that message is still worth sharing with the world in the morning.

5. Be Healthier

There are so many ways that this can be interpreted - Mentally, Physically - Overall, I want to spend more time on ME and challenge myself more.

6. Validate the people in your life

The holidays always remind me of how thankful I am to have such great people in my life. Whether we have just met or we go way back, I am thankful for everyone - you have helped me grow, you have inspired me, and you are the reason I won’t settle for second best.

7. Get a Mentor

I have spent so much time being a mentor that I had forgotten how important it is to have one. I do not currently have a Mentor - my last retired. How can I be a great mentor without one myself?

“He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.” ― Confucius

8. Get ‘er Done

It is so easy to procrastinate and there never seems be enough time in the day, especially for the really tedious stuff. I am going to try a new method for 2016 - get all the stuff I don’t want to do out of the way first. This way I can really enjoy the good stuff.

Once I had a job that I really despised, but there was still several months left to go in my contract. I decided to challenge myself to learn one new thing, on the job, each day. Surprisingly, I ended up really enjoying that job and was sad to go.

9. Pick up useful skills or fun hobbies

It is so easy to get consumed with the monotony of daily life. It is important to have fun when trying new things and challenging ourselves. Even if we fail, the experience will help us succeed in the future.

10. Be In the Moment

The past is past, and the future is unpredictable. Don’t let a moment pass you by - embrace it and enjoy every minute of it - it will only last for a moment.

Do you have a New Year's Resolution? Was it one of these 10? How would you respond to the Top 10? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

'Twas the night before Yule Tyne, when all through the tavern

Not a creature was stirring, not goblin nor wyvern;
The Bags of Holding were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Cuthbert, soon would be there;
The adventurers were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of treasure danced in their heads;
And the Elf in her trace, and I keeping watch in the west,

Had just settled in for at least a short rest
When out in the dark it sounded like a wreck,
I sprang up to see who failed their stealth check
Misty stepped to the window, no need for maps
Carefully opened the shutters whilst checking for traps.

Selûne shone on the new-fallen snow,
As if I had Darkvision to see objects below
When my wondering eyes saw as if stunned,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny Pery-ton,

With a driver clad in surcoat and mailshirt ,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Cuthbert.
More rapid than monks, his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Shasher! Now, Piercer! Now Bludgeon and Force! On, Fire! On, Lightning! On, Ice and Radiant (of Course!)

To the top of the battlements! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Disengage! Double move all!"
So up to the Tavern top, the Perytons they flew
With the sleigh full of loot, and St. Cuthbert too—
And then, in a round, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each razor sharp hoof.
As I hid in the shadows, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Cuthbert came with a bound.
He was dressed all in armor, from his head to his boots,

And I could see he carried mace, shield and a lute
A bundle of weapons he had strapped on his back,
And he looked like a Murder-Hobo just about to attack.

His eyes—how they glinted! His frown lines, so deep!
His cheekbones so sharp, his foes surely weep!
His grim mouth was drawn tight like a bow,

And the beard on his chin, white as mountain snow
From the stump of a pipe, sweet smoke was blown
And it encircled his head like an Ioun Stone
He was broad and strong, a man not an elf,
And I gasped when I saw him, in spite of myself;
With no somatic components, he went straight to his work,

And filled all the bags; then turned with a jerk,
Laying a ring on his finger, it looked shiny and new
And giving a nod, up the chimney he flew;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yell,
And away they all flew as if escaping from hell
But I heard him exclaim, with a fair bit of wit—

“Happy Yule Tyne to all, and always roll crits!”