June 30, 2013 / by admin

A Preface

What’s cooler than going to the gym? Swordfighting. What’s cooler than reading up on what gear you need to most efficiently up your DPS in PvP? Being outside. What’s cooler than watching Game of Thrones? Well, not too much really (haha, Red Wedding). What is really cool (but also dorky, which is okay because everyone around is also doing it)? LARPing. Yes, it is totally nerdy, but it’s still cooler and more fun than not LARPing. Don’t knock it until you try it.


I mean, come on, this is badass.

Seattle hosts a fine LARP/Medieval Combat Society/Wargame/Sport via Dargarth where you are the hero. You get to crush baddies (your friends) and revel in the real-life feels of victory. What’s cooler than button mashing to slay goblins? Physically hitting grown adults that are acting like goblins with foam swords. I promise. Dargarth hosts a reasonable set of rules developed by a former Darkonian, Count Andor.  You can even spot him in the incredible documentary for a second. Not only do fighters battle each other over fictional hexes of land for the good of their countries, but players engage in active and enriching role-play through their characters molding and forming the lore and realm around them. Plus, currently The Explorers Guild and The Holy Order of Mârdûr are engaged in the very first war of the realm and my character, Witchbane Cragon, is leading the first Dargarthian Inquisition!

Dargarth at this year’s All’s Faire.

I suppose no one can be expected to care about all this, but if interested you can refer to the schedule or check the Facebook page. Even if hitting people with foam weapons isn’t your idea of a fun Sunday, watching other people hit people with foam weapons and engage in jolly cooperation is fun too, again I promise.

A Gay Olde Tyme

With the preface and plug out of the way, Dargarth is going to be having their Summer Fundraiser at Volunteer Park this Pride Sunday and the Raygun Lounge is excited as can be to host (and sponsor) the Afterparty! Expect to see proud LARPers in garb guzzling mead and overflowing with personality and reasonable eloquence (hic) spouting off about Malum (The Blood Goddess) knows what. Collectively, we will be raffling off garb, armor, and other various LARPing paraphernalia as well as some Raygun swag both at the Volunteer Park event and at the Afterparty at the Lounge.

Alongside of what other proud and gay olde tymes happen to be going on this weekend, we urge you to stop on by, drink some grog and play with us this weekend.

June 25, 2013 / by A. J. Asplund

It’s commonly understand in the gaming industry that Magic: The Gathering is one of the biggest games around. Magic: The Gathering booster packs, singles, and other products remain a staple of any friendly local game store. Nearly every day of the week, there’s an official Magic tournament somewhere or another. Beyond that, there are any number of “unofficial” variants and ways to play. Let’s face it: Magic is a big deal.

Magic. It's kind of a big deal.

Magic. It’s kind of a big deal.

But I’m not here today to talk about Magic. We’ve already got a guy for that. Besides, the last thing anybody wants is for ME to start talking about Magic cards. That would be a disaster. I’m here to talk about that OTHER trading card game that has been making its way into the Gamma Ray community:

OHMYGOSH! YU-GI-OH!

OHMYGOSH! YU-GI-OH!

No. Not that one. The reason we have any Yu-Gi-Oh in the store at all is a story for another time.

A goblin with a pompadour on a rocket?

Now with pompadoured goblin on a rocket!

World of Warcraft TCG? “You’re out of your mind,” you say. And although that may indeed be true, it’s not what I’m here to tell you.  I’m here to tell you that the World of Warcraft TCG is actually a fun game to play.

The WoW TCG has been around for nearly seven years. Designed by Magic: The Gathering Superstar Brian Kibler, the game has some of the feel of Magic but also has some notable differences. A big one being that every deck is built around a specific hero (represented by a card). So you don’t just play some nameless, ambiguous planeswalker, you play Thrall the Orc Shaman, Arthas the Human Death Knight, or Rawrbrgle the Murloc Warrior. Further, like EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander, for you non-Magic folks out there), your choice of Hero limits the kinds of cards you can put into your deck due to both your Hero’s class and faction.

This could be your Hero.

This could be your Hero.

In addition, as it’s based on an already existing intellectual property, the people at Cryptozoic focus less on silly story and more on the game. Sorry, but you’ll see no “Jace Beleren and the Implicit Maze of Guildpacts” nonsense here. But, if you’ve ever played a game with “Warcraft” in the title, you’ll probably see things you recognize: Uther the Lightbringer, Sylvanas Windrunner, Deathwing the Destroyer, and even Human Peasant.

Job's done!

“Job’s done!”

At it’s core, the WoW TCG is a one versus one game where you assemble a party of allies (creatures, if you will), ready your equipment (artifacts), and use your class abilities (instants and sorcery spells) to defeat your opponent. One thing that makes it a bit different is that alternate play formats were part of the design from day one. In the game’s first year, they introduced the Onyxia’s Lair Raid Deck, a “one player versus many” deck. Since then, each year has brought a new deck that challenges players in a way that is very different from classic one-on-one play. Iconic dungeons like Molten Core, the Black Temple, the Caverns of Time, and Shadowfang Keep are part of the WoW TCG cooperative experience.

Are you ready for the ultimate challenge?

Are you ready for the ultimate challenge?

Many venues that run WoW TCG events (including our very own Raygun Lounge!) routinely run these team and cooperative style events. These alternate formats promote very different deck construction than your typical one-on-one slugfest. Maybe you’re not the best at crushing your foes. That’s okay; you can be the party healer. Or the tank. These are all possibilities in the WoW TCG.

There are other notable differences from Magic but I’m not here to rattle off technical differences between one game and another. I’m here to let you know that the WoW TCG is fun to play and invite you over to the Lounge to give it a try. We play every Sunday at 1pm and we even have free stuff(tm) to give out for new players.

And if you’re really lucky, you may even get to hear somebody play a Leeroy Jenkins card sometime.

Yell it, Leeroy!

Yell it, Leeroy!

June 20, 2013 / by Margot Martell

Have you ever played Dark Souls?

Dark Souls is one of the most incredible video games I’ve ever beheld. It’s gruesome and stark and hopeless and so ego-crushingly difficult it’s almost a wonder it was popular enough to warrant a sequel.

Run-of-the-mill enemies can kill you in two or three hits. With bosses, a stray nick from their weapon is often just lethal. Levels are designed with the express purpose of crushing you under boulders, hurling you into bottomless pits, smashing you against spiked ceilings.

Everything about Dark Souls is brutal. The architecture of every facet of the game has a singular, monomaniacal purpose: to completely and totally fuck your shit up.

The tagline for the game is, simply, “Prepare to Die.”

Full Disclosure: I have yet to play Dark Souls myself. My love of the game comes merely from watching it be played many, many times.

I would tell you that I don’t want to sound obtuse with what I’m about to say, but if you read my previous post, then you know damn well that I am absolutely, undeniably obtuse.

So here’s the obtuse statement of the day: Competitive Magic: the Gathering is a lot like Dark Souls. It’s exhausting; it punishes the smallest mistakes; grinding is a bleak, miserable process, and every loss is crushing.

But the mark of a talented Magic player — perhaps even more so than technically tight play or a penchant for correctly deciphering constructed metagames or the ability to read opponents — is an unwillingness to quit. To play Magic not despite your innumerable losses, but perhaps in fact because of them; that is a skill only the most talented of players have.

This isn’t just poetic bullshittery I’m spewing at you right now; the best players in the world all average to about a 60 percent win record. The best players in the game still lose just shy of HALF of their matches. And this is very likely the thing that makes them better than the rest; they’re willing to lose almost half the time in order to find success and enjoy meaningful wins.

In other words, the best players in Magic history have always been the ones who are the most prepared to die.

Wrapter is NOT afraid to die.
This is Josh Utter-Leyton. He’s arguably the best player of 2013 (and actually player of the year). His win percentage is just over 60 percent.

(more…)

June 11, 2013 / by Eric

This week, guest blogger Jake

Hey Gurl, how about a little Hex & Violence

Hey Gurl, how about a little Hex & Violence?

asks the tough question

WAR GAMES, WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

and invites you to come and play a few of his favorites with him. Take it away, Jake.

I’ve been a eurogame fan for a decade, and an Ameritrash fan for two, but only in the past few years have I really gotten into into wargames. Looking back, none of this should surprise me. Aside from the plastic-filled dicefests Risk and Axis & Allies, games specifically about war are tucked away in the darkest sub-niche within the niche that is tabletop games. People don’t get exposed to them in college like they do D&D, Catan, hard drugs, and STI’s.

Dude, pass me the Players Handbook.

Dude, pass me that Players Handbook.

The games sometimes have funny symbols, use technical manuals for rulebooks, and are usually the ugliest on the market (St. Petersburg aside). Besides all of these unsexy traits, wargames are actually great, and I’ve finally come around to appreciating how marvelous they can be.

So I’m starting a new wargame event at the Raygun Lounge. It’s called Hex & Violence, and it starts at noonish on Sundays. Show up and try some of the finest examples of contemporary wargaming, including Combat Commander, Twilight Struggle, 1812: The Invasion of Canada, and many more.

The legendary "Happy Invasion" will not be available as it has been out of print for years.

The legendary “Happy Invasion” will not be available as it has been out of print for years.


I’m happy to teach anything I bring, and while many (if not most) wargames are for 2 players only, there are many games for more, and even the occasional game for fewer. This is not an event for painted miniatures games such as Warmachine, or a nostalgia-fuelled foray into Risk. You can of course just grab a table and do that, but trust me, you’ll be missing out on some of the most engrossing experiences you can have in a tabletop game.

June 06, 2013 / by Eric

Being the accessible, well-liked man-about-the-neighborhood that I am, I often get approached by well-meaning, supportive people asking, “how are you/how’s it going at the shop/with the lounge/with kickstarter?” and no matter what I answer lately, I feel like it just doesn’t do the question justice. My off-the-cuff answers always seem, in hindsight, to be too short and, frankly, misleading out of context. So I’ve decided to finally come clean once and for all and tell you the REAL story of how things are going with the shop and the lounge and how I actually feel about them. In detailed context.

The True History of Gamma Ray Games – A Fable

When I first opened Gamma Ray Games I’d been unemployed for months. I was a stay-at-home-dad with little chance of re-entering the job force any time soon. When I first opened the game store, I imagined it as a little fishing boat. I figured I would spend my days eking out rent while trying to figure out how to get people through the door. But that seemed better to me than spending my late thirties sitting at home playing video games and reading the internet all day.

Well, it's a living.

Well, it’s a living.

But from the very first day something different happened. Something else entirely. People came by. They just stopped by. Every day. They came to see what was going on, to talk about games and gaming, to share ideas. Almost instantly my little boat of a game store was drawing an engaged, diverse community to it.

Before I knew it, my metaphoric fishing boat had an outboard motor. A big one. By the time Dominic came on board, we were skipping off the water so often and for so long that we decided to add wings just to see how much air we could actually catch. We never expected to actually take flight.

Staying aloft and gaining altitude in a built-out rowboat presented a number of new and unexpected challenges for us. We built our solutions from scratch, keeping what worked and dropping what didn’t. Sometimes quite literally. Given all the holes in the hull at that point, it wasn’t hard to do. I’d like to apologize to any of you that had an odd wrench or partially built mechanical system come flying through your kitchen window during that period. I hope no one was hurt and, if it’s any consolation, I’m pretty sure that they’ll all be collectibles someday.

crash clock

You’ll want to hold onto that, kid.

By the time we reached the stratosphere we knew we were onto something and the discussion, when we weren’t trying to desperately patch the hull or jerry-rig new equipment became “what next?” And though “fly out into space to look for the gates” was a popular option, we eventually decided to build a second ship. From scratch. Inside our hand-built stratobomber. And launch it, untested, from high altitude. Without landing for parts.

Yes. This is what we would do. The more we considered it, the clearer it became. This was exactly what our unique backgrounds had prepared us for. We would go for it. All in.

Though survival was our primary concern, our commitment to style never wavered.

Though survival was our primary concern, our commitment to style never wavered.

So, using only materials donated to us by our fellow sky captains, we constructed a self-inflating dirigible inside of the hollowed out frame of our stratobomber and modified the bomb doors to fit it.

When it came time to let it go… it dropped like a lead bullet. Straight down. Like we shot it from a gun. You could hear it whistling as it dropped. And everyone watching from the ground knew it would crash. They wouldn’t say it over the radio because they didn’t want to hurt our feelings, but the rumors were out there. Misguided. Doomed. Naive. My personal favorite, straight from a hater’s piercing email, was “profoundly overreaching.”

But the people on the ground didn’t realize how much we’d learned about DIY aeronautics. How brave we were. How willing we were to climb down the snapping connection cables, climb into that untested zeppelin hull and kick those inflators ourselves until they finally came on, scrapping and rebuilding from scratch any that wouldn’t.

I'm so goddamn proud of every one of the crew.

I’m so goddamn proud of our crew.

Now we’re months into this expansion and though the connecting cables have held and the wings of the stratobomber haven’t snapped off entirely yet and all 4 engines are running most of of the time, we’re closer to the ground then we’ve ever been.

I can hear treetops snapping under me as I type this. We lost 3 crew members in as many weeks last month and are still subject to occasional reaver attacks. And I can still hear the critics who want me to crash and the concerned onlookers who want me to land. And now, more than ever, I know that I’m right where I want to be and I’m doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. I’m an adventurer. And this is the adventure of my lifetime. And I’m not giving up this ragtag armada for anybody.

I’m still not sure where we’re going. But I don’t care anymore because I’ve come to realize that the journey itself is amazing. And I want to bring as many of you as I can right along with me. Because I love my life and how I spend it and I’m going to do all I can to ensure that you love yours too.

Post Script

So there you have it. The honest truth about how it’s going at Gamma Ray Games and the Raygun Lounge and how I feel about them both. Please try to remember all of this the next time you hear someone who hasn’t read this post ask me how it’s going and know what I really mean when I say, “uh… pretty good… today… I guess… I just need to get that damn fire put out,” as I run off to go find where we moved the circuit breaker so I can shut the power down to the burning section before rushing in with a fire extinguisher.