I’m pretty philosophically opposed to Diablo and Torchlight-style games, for most of the reasons Action Button told me. But sometimes we all need to turn our brains off, right? And since I do most of my gaming these days on my Nexus 7 (I’ve been a casual gamer for years. I’m only just beginning to accept it), I’m always on the lookout for pleasantly frictionless dungeon crawlers and light RPGs. They’re surprisingly hard to find.
Dungeon Hunter is overserious, grindy, and frankly pretty graphically inappropriate for the platform. Worst of all, it takes the psychologically exploitative nature of the Diablo model and attaches it to real money. Bit Dungeon is fantastic, but very limited in scale. Ravensword 2 is pretty great for plane rides (and its accessible scale is what games like Oblivion SHOULD be), but it’s still not quite ‘casual’.
Dungeon Quest, though, hits the mindless-pleasure sweet spot. It’s easy to play in bite-sized chunks and has charming, lightweight design – but it also has TONS of loot, character depth, and great controls. It’s also still under very active development, so who knows where they’re going next.
Shadows of Brimstone Tentacles
Who doesn’t need more tentacles? You have about 3 more days to get in on Shadows of Brimstone, a miniatures boardgame by Flying Frog Games that is currently in the middle of a wildly successful Kickstarter. It’s a sophisticated modern dungeon crawling board game with a West meets Horror theme, and tons of what promise to be great-looking miniatures. The “Outlaw” package for $150 (which I helped myself to as a little consolation when my Grandma died) includes two different versions of the core game (which you can share or use together), and a pretty big mess of addons, including all kinds of squishy, rotting characters and game goodies.
I played a ton of this sort of dungeon crawler board game when I was a kid, including Talisman, Warhammer Quest, and Hero Quest. I only recently got back into the genre, playing a few rounds of Descent with my brothers a few weeks ago when I was at home, and it’s come a long way, baby. The rules are a lot more sophisticated, and obviously the themes have taken a step forward from pure sword n’ sorcery. When I was about 14, I cut up a bunch of my Hero Quest miniatures and turned them into the kind of weird mutants this game includes by default, so you can imagine my excitement.
At this point, I haven’t painted a miniature since I was 19 (which is probably for the best), but now that I’m too old to give a damn about being cool, I guess it’s time to take another crack at it. My little palms are simply sweating to paint those tentacles.
One of my gigs is to occasionally write pieces for Fortune.com/CNN Money. My latest Fortune article came out yesterday morning, and boy are my arms tired.
It’s about preparedness, or doomsday prepping, and it has gotten a lot of traction, including being syndicated by Drudge and mentioned on Glenn Beck’s show. The interest in the topic is obviously huge, and I hope I did a good job of representing a balanced view of the phenomenon. In addition to a healthy discussion in the comments section, the article has spawned a huge thread over at Free Republic, both including people sharing far more prepping information than wingnut conspiracies – which reflects what my reporting discovered, and which you might be surprised I think is a good thing. I’m an outdoorsman myself (and also a bit of a gun enthusiast), and I’m glad to contribute to spreading the word – although obviously I’m skeptical of some of people’s more outlandish motivations. The idea here, though, was definitely not to demonize or mock anyone, especially after I met the uniformly nice and mostly smart and thoughtful people at the expo.
You can find the very brief mention of the article on Glenn Beck’s show here, at around the 1:19:30 mark.