July 24, 2014 / by Eric

While we wait for the Washington State Liquor Board to approve our liquor license adjustment to allow the the Lounge to become all ages so we can move the shop into it we’re still going strong at both locations.

Which means it’s another great weekend filled with great special events!

It all starts off on Friday with our monthly Indie Dev Meetup, a night to see and show the city’s hottest in-development games when host Alex Schearer invites the brightest and best designers to, “Put down your keyboard [...] grab your laptop [...] and get feedback from other game makers.”

On Saturday, our indie game design weekend shifts from computer to tabletop when we host Seattle’s very first Unpub Event featuring completely brand new games from some of our region’s top designers. Our legendary weekly Magic drafting will still be in effect (M15, $15 buy in, prizes for top 3) but will be limited to 1 pod of 8 at noon and 4pm to make sure that we have room for this important event.

On Sunday, we shift back into our classic schedule with all of our regular weekly and bi-weekly events like Star Wars X-Wing with Rebel Leader Dylan Holmes and Elder Dragon Highlander with Legendary Commander Arcades Sabboth.

Y-Wing Attack

So again, come on down to the lounge for a beer, some pizza, and the best tabletop gaming experience in Capitol Hill.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

-Eric

July 03, 2014 / by Eric

The lounge is just shy of its two year anniversary (the shop just turned five!) and, as promised, we continue to listen, learn and adjust as we go. And now, based on your feedback, input from the Washington State Liquor Board and feedback from the King County Department of Planning and Development, we’re unveiling our three biggest changes to date:

1) By the end of the month the Raygun Lounge will be an all-ages space(!) with significantly expanded operating hours. Yes, we will still be serving a range of beer, cider and wine. Yes, we will be crafting an expanded menu of lite bites and snacks to serve our new daytime crowd. And yes, we will continue to host a growing range of weekly, monthly and special events.

That’s right. The lounge will be

All Ages 1

2) At the same time we’re moving our retail shop – Gamma Ray Gamesinto the Raygun Lounge space. Starting Tuesday, July 15th we’re bringing back the synchronicity of the original shop so you will no longer have to walk up and down the street and split your tab in order to get your favorite gaming supplies while you’re playing, drinking and eating with your friends. By combining sites there will be a dedicated management team on site, in one location, to ensure better & easier access for improved service and faster response times.

3) And, maybe most importantly of all, WE’RE RENOVATING THE BATHROOM! Twice!! First on a preliminary level in July, and then a complete overhaul in October.

Altogether it’s going to be the biggest, most exciting expansion we’ve ever taken on. And I am thrilled about it.

Thank you for a great past 5 years. Thank you for the great next 5 years.

And remember, kids…
seriously, every time

See you soon,

-Eric

October 04, 2013 / by Eric

Let me begin by enthusiastically announcing that we’re going to be having our One Year Anniversary Party in 2 weeks on Friday, October 18th at the Raygun Lounge and we’re going to push very hard to fulfill on all of our Kickstarter rewards when we do so.

I know and respect that most backers of the Lounge are feeling some mix of excitement-anticipation-impatience (some verging on anger) about finally getting your awesome Kickstarter swag. In retrospect, we made a ton of mistakes. I made a ton of mistakes. Some of them now glaringly apparent – like thinking that I would be able to fund and build an entire lounge, keep it going and fulfill on all of my outrageous Kickstarter rewards within a single month. Obviously, looking back, we were ridiculously optimistic to have promised that.

But then, we were ridiculously optimistic about the whole damn project from soup to nuts back in that glorious spring of 2012. After having backed some crazy Kickstarter projects ourselves, (and even after watching them face their own untested and unforeseen obstacles; Axe in My Head & Your Art Card Sleeves your tenacity in the face of obstacle after obstacle is an inspiration to us all) Kickstarter still seemed like a fantastic way to raise start-up funds, raise awareness, and share the adventure that only running and being part of a small, bold DIY local venture can provide, all at the same time. And it was. And I love what we do at Gamma Ray and I love sharing about how we do it. Even the messy, sometimes disorganized, learn-as-we-go side of it. Especially the messy, sometimes disorganized, learn-as-we-go side of it. And that’s why I was, and continue to be, wholeheartedly supportive of the whole idea behind Kickstarter, both how it works and how it sometimes doesn’t.

That said, as both a personal and professional backer of a number of long-delayed Kickstarter projects, I can very much sympathize with the bitter-sweetness of waiting for overdue kickass Kickstarter swag. On the one hand, the crazy updates can be pretty fun to read, on the other, I still someday hope to get or see the actual thing that inspired my monetary backing in the first place.

Which is why I am so ongoingly humbled by and grateful for your patronage and patience. And which is why in two weeks on Friday, October 18th we will invite you to come out to the lounge that you built so that we can say thank you one more time. And we’re pushing very hard to fulfill on all of the Kickstarter rewards, once and for all, by this event. Will we achieve this goal? No. Absolutely not. I’ve learned enough over the past year to say that we will do our absolute best. We will use all of the money that our modest operating budget allows us to order shirts, underwear, dice and lockers. We will use all of the time that our modest schedule allows us to finish the Wall of Awesome and table logo laser insets. We will do all that we can to have your t-shirts and underwear and cups and glasses ready, your name on the wall where we said it would be and your locker ready for you with good music and compelling art and your friends all here and we’ll make it warm and nice, all while keeping the doors open 6 days a week for over a year now through thick and thin, surprise after surprise. And we will fail. I don’t know how yet. But something isn’t going to arrive in time. Some application method isn’t going to work. Someone’s mom is going to get sick and they’re going to have to leave on short notice.

And when that happens, and I only have 4 out of the 5 things that I’ve yet again promised in spite of yet again not knowing how we’re going to do it all and daring yet again to try anyway, and you point it out to me as if I don’t already know, I’m going to smile, with great sincerity, and tell you that it’s on its way soon and that we’re working on it. And the sincerity will be real because we are. We’re doing the best that we can. And I know that we’re doing the best that we can because I love doing the best that I can and I love inspiring others to do the best that they can. And that’s why I do this. And that’s why I picked Kickstarter. And that’s why I hope that you picked us.

And if it isn’t why you picked us and you’re disappointed in our or my performance, I’m sorry. But I’m not sad. Because I’m proud of us. Because I’m proud of what we did and what we’re doing. I’m proud that while we were late on our t-shirts and still haven’t found a custom dice company that’s easy to work with, we actually built a friendly local game store and a gaming lounge where you can enjoy yourself six days a week. From scratch! And we now have a staff of six kickass employees to respond to your calls and emails directly, assist you in your gaming explorations, and honestly respond to you about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And if we hadn’t have made all of those mistakes along the way, and if I wasn’t willing to be told, to my face and online by strangers, all of the mistakes that I made and the ways that I’d failed them personally, we never could’ve gotten here.

And that’s why I do it. Not for the accolades. Not for the money. But because I love our diverse, local, Capitol Hill community of gamers, creatives, nerds and geeks of all stripes, genders and orientations. And I love bringing them together to collaborate and do things that we’ve never done together before.

So come out with me in two weeks. Come out and celebrate. Come out and celebrate everything that we did and everything thing that we didn’t do. Come out and celebrate what we’re going to try to do next and what we’re going to do along the way in spite of ourselves. Come out and celebrate the mistakes that we’ve yet to be bold and brave enough to make together yet, but someday will be. Bring your hopes and your dreams and I’ll bring mine and we’ll throw them all out on the tables that we had to custom build to be big enough to fit them all. And we’ll mix them all together and we’ll make something amazing. And we’ll call it our lounge.

Happy Anniversary, everybody. I can’t wait to see you again.

-Eric

August 20, 2013 / by Eric

With Summer gliding gracefully into fall (it is, don’t fight it, Autumn’s beautiful too), I thought it was time for a quick update- in 4 parts (what can I say, we’ve got a lot going on)!

PAX

PAX is right around the corner and we will again have a booth in room 305 loaded with indie RPGs and story games to support our BFFs, the Games on Demand crew. We’ll also have convention exclusives & specials and limited edition free beer coupons so come on down and visit us!

And speaking of free beer, we’ll be holding special events at the Raygun Lounge all PAX Weekend long, including our 2nd Annual PAX Pink Party (remember last year’s party where we didn’t have lights installed yet? Epic.) and a Monday night event featuring special guests like Supercommuter that we’re putting together with the Cipher Crew that I’ll talk more about soon.

Kickstarter

We’re still grinding away on fulfilling all of our Kickstarter rewards and are currently in the process of finalizing the Wall of Awesome and the personal lockers. If you’re in town for PAX and would like to pick up your rewards, we have your cups, pint glasses and some of your shirts and underwear ready. Strangely, the custom D20s have turned out to be the most difficult thing to try to obtain. If you know of any companies or individuals willing and able to make a few hundred custom dice, tell them to email me (gammaragamestore at gmail.com, feel free to use it yourself!) because we’re not getting anywhere with the usual suspects.

Gamma Ray Games

With the seasonal transition (seriously, you’ve just got to accept it. Yes, it was the most beautiful summer we’ve ever seen, but this Autumn really is going to be beautiful too. Remember those long September evenings? Yeah…) comes our annual personnel turnover. And this year that turnover involves our very own Andrew taking his sword and and wandering into the mysterious wilds of the Commercial Real Estate Kingdom.

I don't why all of our employees look like samurai when they leave. Probably has something to do with our awesome training methods.

Which one of you bastards misplaced my TPS reports?

Though we’ll miss Andrew, we’re pretty stoked to not only have Aric step in, but with the lounge and Kickstarter finally coming together, I’m particularly excited to announce that I’ll be coming back to the counter on a regular basis as well.

Starting in September, I’ll be behind the counter at least every Tuesday and Sunday and probably more depending upon Aric’s school schedule so come on in and see me some time. I’ll be the one in sweet ass blue cape.

Did you miss me, baby?

I mean, seriously. Have you seen this thing?

The Raygun Lounge

Though it’s taken us almost a year (I’ll announce our September anniversary plans soon), we’ve stabilized the lounge, built a kitchen and got a consistent, awesome, team in place.

Lest you have any doubts about their awesomeness, here is lounge team leader Kerry as he appears in the EMP's LARP exhibit. Say, did I mention the Seattle Weekly's award for 'Best Place in Seattle to meet Single Men'? Just sayin.'

Lest you have any doubts about their awesomeness, here is lounge team leader Kerry as he appears in the EMP’s recent LARP pictorial. Say, did I mention that we just won the Seattle Weekly’s award for ‘Best Place in Seattle to meet Single Men‘? Just sayin.’

Now we’re in the process of ensuring that everyone get equal access in a way that allows us to grow and expand our hours and offerings.

To that end, we’ve implemented our new paid reservation system. If you or friends would like to reserve one of our massive 8 top tables for your personal gaming, they’re available for $20/hour minus the cost of any food or beverages purchased by you and your party so reserve space with confidence and throw yourself your own private party.

And that’s it from me. I’ve gotta get back to work but I look forward to seeing you soon,

-Eric

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 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.

May 29, 2013 / by A. J. Asplund

A few Sundays ago, I had a gaming opportunity that not everybody gets a chance to experience. It was crazy! It had costumes! It had demons! It had possession! It had well-known game designers! It may have been the craziest four hours of role-playing in all of Seattle that weekend! Well, maybe not the craziest role-playing…

Bacon Roleplay?

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little bit. A few months ago, I was commenting to Rob D, one of our D&D Encounters DMs, that I should do a 13th Age introductory session sometime. You see, 13th Age is this new fantasy role-playing game by Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, two of the mighty lords of modern Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a wild mix of story game, indie RPG, and classic D&D. Thinking nothing of the conversation, I went home thinking about cool ways to promote the game at the store. I was quite surprised to find that DM Rob had emailed Rob Heinsoo personally and suggested my plan to him.

Surprise!

This was my first lesson: You never know who people know.

After getting over the initial shock, I realized this could be an interesting opportunity. I began a dialogue with Rob Heinsoo and the fine folks of Fire Opal Media (the creators of 13th Age). Doing introductory 13th Age events at the Raygun Lounge seemed like a really solid idea. Everything seemed to be going well. During the discussion, Ash Law, the fellow responsible for the 13th Age organized play program, made the following comment: “We have been working on some Gamma Ray Games exclusive stuff for you.”

GAMMA RAY GAMES EXCLUSIVE STUFF?!?! WHOOOOOHOOOOO!

Gamma Ray Beholder?

I know that Gamma Ray Games has been “secretly” featured in role-playing games before, but this was officially designed content! At this point, I felt like we’d hit the victory condition. Not only had we decided that we’d be the only folks in town doing intro sessions of 13th Age BEFORE ITS RELEASE but that there would be some sort of game content exclusive to Gamma Ray Games. It’s like that moment of elation when you realize the only positive outcome in Gary Gygax’s classic adventure Dungeonland was to never play at all.

Fast forward a month or two. After some more discussion, the 13th Age organized play coordinator, Ash Law, sent me the Gamma Ray Games exclusive content: Lair of the Ludomancer. Here I had an adventure chalk-full of thoroughly entertaining references to Gamma Ray Games, fully prepared to be unleashed upon players at the Raygun Lounge. But, shortly after sharing it with me, Ash made this comment: “I’d like to pop by GRG and run it for you.” Wade Rockett, the 13th Age social media guy, responded with, “I’ve just confirmed that I’m also free this Sunday, and would love to play.”

Seriously. Gamma Ray Exclusive.

At this point in the story, I found myself scheduled for a session of an upcoming fantasy RPG that I am super excited about with two of the people that work on it in an adventure specifically designed for my local gameshop. It’s like a nerd fanboy fantasy. I suppose, at this point, it could only be more exciting if the actual guys who make the game showed up. But, of course, that is ridiculous. Either way, I was ready! I was excited! This was going to be a real thing and I was going to be part of it! WHOOOOOOOOO!

Very excited!

Eventually, the big day arrived. We all gathered around the table. We chose pregenerated characters. Ash looked at each of us and asked what our “One Unique Thing” was. It did not take long for it to get serious. There was the dwarf cleric who was haunted by the demon that killed his necromancer parents. I played the half-elf fighter who had been given a magical clockwork heart after losing his in an unfortunate tavern brawl. There was the dark elf sorcerer that gave him the magical heart, also the runner-up in the ever-popular Mr. Known World competition. Rounding out the group was the human paladin, the last living paladin in this part of the world, and the gnome bard who was on a secret mission for the Elf Queen… but couldn’t remember what it was. After laying some more groundwork, Ash handed out props to some of us.

The adventure commenced as the party proceeded into the Bitterwood. It did not take long for me to realize that we were not actually going to Ray’s Tavern, the popular venue run by Ray and his wife Gemma in the town of East Pine. Yet, it did not bother me. We were pursuing a goal relevant to our characters, and it did not take long for us to come across a pack of vicious gnolls in the night. Well, to be honest, two of us were quite convinced that we were hearing ghosts, but that’s a question up for debate at another time. We had found these gnolls and their repugnant master, a filth demon. Well, more appropriately, a poop demon. An Excremental, if you will. The party engaged these horrible monsters and fought bravely to drive off the vile beasts.

The Excremental

At one point, the cleric blasted the Excremental with his Javelin of Faith. The player, Rob D, had missed, but was close. Ash asked if he’d be willing to make a compromise: the attack would hit and do a lot of damage, but it would hurt another character. He agreed, of course, and the blast was so powerful that it ejected the Excremental’s demonic heart, throwing it across the battlefield and into the face of the brave paladin. Quickly, the demonic heart squirmed its way down the paladin’s throat, beginning a demonic corruption that would spell certain doom for our brave friend.

Another important lesson learned: Keep your mouth shut when fighting poop demons.

As the battle neared its end, a new person approached the table. “Hello, Jonathan!” Wade and Ash seemed to know this new fellow and welcomed him to the table. It did not take long for me to realize… This guy was Jonathan Tweet, one of the creators of 13th Age. He spoke to Ash briefly, offering to take the part of whatever silly-voiced NPC was available. It did not take long for that character to be Werdna, the demon that haunted the dwarven cleric.

Jonathan Tweet the Demon

The Paladin’s fate required an exorcism, something only the priest could perform. Quickly, the situation descended into madness as Werdna the Demon (as played by Jonathan Tweet) provided nefarious direction. After poor choices by both the sorcerer and the cleric, things had run afoul. Before anybody could realize what had happened, the party had descended into an infernal hellscape, with the demon Werdna now residing within the body of the dark elf sorcerer. Trapped in a hellish arena and surrounded by the spirits of countless lost paladins, the heroes found themselves engaged by flaming demons content to tear them asunder.

The demon Werdna began offering the characters an opportunity to change fate. At the table, this was represented by Jonathan Tweet allowing us to reroll our attacks. Although it was difficult, it did not take long for the battle to end in victory for our adventurers. However, the deal with the demon had a price! We each had to roll a twenty-sided die, hoping to roll a number greater than the number of times we had invoked the demon’s favor. Unfortunately, our sorcerer, who had called upon the demon nineteen times, did not make it. Neither did the dwarf cleric who had tricked him. With the gnome bard gone (Wade’s character, who escaped into the underworld as Wade had to leave slightly early), only the half-elf fighter and the paladin managed to wrench their soul’s from this maniacal hellscape.

From this, several of us at the table learned another important lesson: Jonathan Tweet is our personal demon.

Isn't that... the other guy?

So, that was my 13th Age experience: over-the-top, collaborative storytelling with exciting battles against vicious monsters where the heroes get to truly feel like heroes. Players contribute to the narrative in ways rarely (if ever) seen in popular role-playing games. This is the game that accomplished from the start what took my own Dungeons & Dragons game years to reach. I cannot recommend it enough.

April 25, 2013 / by Matthew Martell

Hey folks,

It’s the Drunken Planeswalker again. Sorry you all had to read my love letter to Ral last week… suffice to say I now may or may not have a restraining order placed on me, so you won’t hear me talking about him (publicly) again.

What I DO want to talk about today are the 10 guild champions who have been chosen to compete in Survivor: Ravnic—I mean, the Implicit A-maze-ing Ra—I mean… well, ugh, the Dragon’s Maze. What a terrible name.

BUT HERE’S THE TWIST: I’m not going to grade them on a one-to-five scale like some ACTUAL LEGITIMATE MAGIC WRITER. Instead, I’m going to be ranking them using a tier system a la the Fighting Game Community. S tier/top tier is, well, top tier. A tier is very good. B tier is passable but not impressive. SHIT TIER is exactly what it sounds like.

Alright, we clear on that? Let’s get going. I’m going to review the champions alphabetically by guild, because I don’t want to seem like I’m playing favorites or anything (spoiler alert: I totally am).

Azorius: Lavinia of the Tenth

Lavinia of the suspension of fourth amendment rights

So… Restoration Angel is still legal, right? Well that’s pretty goddamn unfortunate. Also is this Soviet Ravnica or something? Is the Azorius police force the KGB? Detaining the meek with no right to a fair trial seems a bit extreme, if you ask me.

Anyway, I guess this card is good. And also a bit fascist. But if that floats your boat, then you’ll probably enjoy sleeving up Lavinia once it’s standard-legal (because let’s face it, it’s a five drop that isn’t named Thundermaw Hellkite, Batterskull or Baneslayer Angel, so it’ll never be good enough for Modern). Incidentally, thinking Lavinia is a “fun” card also means you probably like punching kittens and puppies, but I’m just speculating here.

Limited Verdict: A TIER
Constructed Verdict: A (???) TIER

Boros: Tajic, Blade of the Legion

Tajic, Blade of the Freehand Artistry

So… he’s indestructible… but he dies to Dead Weight? And Death Wind? And Stab Wound? Okay, so the -X/-X Doom Blade argument is stupid, I know. But I can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed here. I’m sure he’s going to be the bombiest bomb in draft/sealed, since an unkillable 7/7 for four mana is one of clearest definitions of VALUE in limited, but I can’t see him seeing play in constructed until at the very least after Innistrad rotates. And even then I’m not entirely convinced this card is better than Firemane Avenger, at least in the abstract.

That said, I’d like to be wrong about this. Tajic is super flavorful and really cool and his sword is warped enough to give Rob Liefeld the spins, so I’m giving him a thumbs up on radness, even if he isn’t necessarily up to muster for constructed play.

Limited Verdict: TOP TIER
Constructed Verdict: ???? TIER

Dimir: Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker

Mirko Vosk, Not Even Comparable to Tog Drinker

Fine Wizards I see how it is DON’T EVER GIVE US A PLAYABLE DIMIR CREATURE FOR CONSTRUCTED OR CUBE I GET IT PSYCHATOG WAS A MISTAKE AND EVEN THOUGH SHADOWMAGE INFILTRATOR IS LIKE BARELY CUBABLE NOWADAYS YOU’RE JUST PROVING INFLEXIBLE ON THIS MATTER AND— …

(20 minutes later)

Oh… oops. I must have hyperventilated and passed out. Sorry about that. I just want more constructed-playable Dimir creatures. And their non-existence makes me a bit pouty.

That said, I can already tell I’m going to be flipping a lot of tables after losing to Mr. Vosk in limited. If you assume that you’re going on the grind plan for the kill, then this guy is effectively three-turn clock for five mana, and that’s what we like to call a Windmill Slam First Pick™ in essentially every single limited format ever in the history of Magic.

So yeah. Slam it. Force Dimir. Or just splash Dimir in your Boros deck, for all I care. This dude is nuts (both literally and figuratively) in limited.

Limited Verdict: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ TIER
Constructed Verdict: SHIT TIER

Golgari: Varolz, the Scar-Striped

Varolz, the Pinstriped

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh yeah. Now THIS is a sweet guild champion. By now we’ve all heard about the sweet Modern deck that pairs him (I presume this is a male troll? Unclear…) with Death’s Shadow, so let’s talk about some of the cool things he can do in Standard.

For starters, he has the Sam Black seal of approval, since he has the words “sacrifice another creature” on him; so he makes all your Tragic Slips super live, he techs crazy well with Skirsdag High Priest, he goes hog-wild with Blood Artists, etc. But beyond that, I’m more interested in the second half of that clause, which describes how he’s absurdly difficult to kill. Varolz plus any other creature means Supreme Verdict is just a sad joke, and spot removal (barring Slip) is a super loose proposition against him. The first place I want to try him is a GB Zombies deck that uses him to pop Geralf’s Messengers at will and loop Gravecrawlers for many, many regenerations. He also makes your Dreg Manglers waaaaaaaaay easier to scavenge after they’ve slithered in to do their hasty bolt’s worth of damage, and that is what I call VALUE (can you tell by now that I REALLY like value????).

Oh yeah, he’s probably really insane in limited too. First-pick him and move on with your life.

Limited Verdict: TOP TIER
Constructed Verdict: A TIER

Gruul: Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Ruric Thar, Who Serves the Horde????

Oh boy, reach on a big green fatty! We’ve never seen that before!

… but seriously why doesn’t this guy (guys???) have trample? I guess I can’t complain too much though; Ruric Thar is a big stompy creature that provides Gruul with everything they’ve ever wanted in a guild champion. I mean, being Unbowed is way less cool than being a Hate Seed, but I suppose that isn’t too much of a slight against this two-head ogre.

Side note: I’ve been watching a lot of Venture Bros lately, and I can’t help but imagine Ruric Thar as the two-headed council member from the Guild of Calamitous Intent. You’re welcome for that, by the way.

Aaaaaaaaanyway, slam this guy in limited, because BIG STUPID FATTY THAT DOES MEAN THINGS TO OPPONENTS. As for constructed playability, I’m honestly not sure? Maybe he’s good enough to be a high-end finisher in a Naya or Jund Midrange deck? The built-in anti-Sphinx’s Revelation clause seems reasonable for Standard at least.

Limited Verdict: TOP TIER
Constructed Verdict: LOW A/HIGH B TIER

Izzet: Melek, Izzet Paragon

Melek, Whose Sight is Far and Reach is Short

This card isn’t constructed playable… IZZET? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL I’M SO FUNNY.

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. But no seriously, this card isn’t constructed playable. Six mana for a 2/4 just isn’t a good return on investment if you ask me. Forked Future Sight on instants and sorceries is a sweet effect, but Oracle of Mul Daya this is not.

For that matter, Six mana for a 2/4 isn’t a good return on investment in limited, either, so I think poor Melek will seldom make the cut for decks in basically any format. Props to WotC for finally making a “Weird Wizard,” though.

Limited Verdict: SHIT TIER
Constructed Verdict: SHIT TIER

(… it’s funny because he multiplied his shit-ness by two!!!)

Orzhov: Teysa, Envoy (Envy) of Ghosts

Teysa, Envy of GOOOOOOOSOTASDAFASDFSDDF

Seriously, this card was far cooler when it first appeared with its original typo’d title. But when I think of playable seven-drops featuring white mana symbols, I think of Angel of Serenity and Elesh Norn, and Teysa is envious of both of those. Protection from creatures is whatever, and I’m sure she’ll be a fine curve-topper in Sealed and Draft, but a 4/4 for seven that dies to Supreme Verdict AND Mizzium Mortars just doesn’t cut it for constructed if you ask me. If I want 1/1 flying spirits in an Orzhov deck, I’d much rather just cast Lingering Souls.

Limited Verdict: PROBABLY LOW A TIER
Constructed Verdict: SHIT TIER

Rakdos: Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

Exava, Hollowed Blood Witch

Isn’t this an enemy from the Dark Souls DLC? Or a Cirque Du Soleil performer from one of my nightmares? I don’t even know…

Ahem. Okay, so, a 4/4 for four mana that has first strike AND haste. Okay, yeah, sure. I’m sold. Slam it in draft, etc. Pretty sure it just can’t compete in constructed right now thanks to beaters like Hellrider and Falkenrath Aristocrat being legal, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that she’ll see play once Innistrad block rotates in October. Making your Rakdos Cacklers into top-decked Goblin Guides is probably enough of an upside for hyper-aggressive Rakdos archetypes to justify her inclusion in those decks post-rotation.

Limited Verdict: A TIER
Constructed Verdict: B (????) TIER

Selesnya: Emmara Tandris

Emmaraculately Huge Disappointment

I feel like Emmara needs to crawl back into whatever George R.R. Martin novel she popped out of and quietly die in a corner there like the rest of his characters. At seven mana, she just does not strike me as remotely playable in basically any format. She’s clunky and vanilla as a limited curve-topper, her effect is hopelessly underwhelming in standard, and in Commander she’s just straight up worse than Avacyn, Elesh Norn and a large number of other fat Green/White legends. Kudos to her for pulling off that Galadriel look, though.

Limited Verdict: SHIT-MINUS TIER
Constructed Verdict: STILL SHIT-MINUS TIER

Simic: Vorel of the Hull Clade

Vorel of the Azeroth Clade?

WHO LET AN ALBINO DRAENEI INTO THE SIMIC COMBINE????

I’m pretty sure this guy is “fine” in limited because at the absolute worst he’s a Horned Turtle, and his upside is pretty disgusting once you get the whole evolve/scavenge engine going with him. Mostly I’m just disappointed that he’s a Human Merfolk and not a legendary Lizard Frog. Absolute flavor fail there.

In terms of constructed, I just don’t see him being quite good enough for Standard play. He’s slow, clunky and underpowered on his own, and his synergistic upside requires way more effort than Zegana’s. He’s probably gonna be the nut-high in Commander, though. Sorta-kinda-Doubling Season on a body as a commander seems pretty sicko.

Limited Verdict: A TIER
Constructed Verdict: B TIER
Commander Verdict: TOP TIER

So there you have it—my take on all of the guild champions, just in time for all your Dragon’s Maze prerelease party times. May you all open sweet sealed pools and X-0 your prerelease tournaments!

CONCLUDING BONUS VERDICT: Magic cards are cool and all, but really you should all just pick Sagat for prerelease.

OTHER SUPER DUPER EXCITING NEWS: I’m delighted to announce that at this weekend’s Saturday prereleases at the Raygun Lounge, we will have Wizards of the Coast R&D member Ben Hayes on site as our first-ever spellslinger! Attendees will be able to play against him and win prizes, so even if you couldn’t make it into any of the prerelease flights, you’ll still want to swing by and say hi!

January 01, 2013 / by Eric

Wow, what a great year.

And to top it all off, we’re about to hit 1200 fans on facebook. As 1100 of you know and 100 of you are about to learn, every time we get 100 new fans on facebook, we declare Facebook Fan Fantasy Festival Party Time

or FFFFPT as it’s known on the streets

and we give out free stuff.

For this particular FFFFPT we thought we’d celebrate the recent licensing of our new Raygun Lounge by giving out FREE BEER!

Thanks, Dan Becker.

That’s right. As soon as you see us post an appropriate image to our facebook page

say, something tasteful like this

or this

titled It’s FFFFPT 12! you’ll know it’s time to head on down to Gamma Ray Games and pick up your FREE BEER TICKET. While supplies last.

This offer not good on Panther Sweat.

We save that shit for Conan.

November 30, 2012 / by Eric

I’m thrilled to announce that as of 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, The Raygun Lounge has an official Washington state license to sell beer, wine, ale, cider and mead. Yes, mead. This means that tonight’s (Friday, 11/30) invite-only event (a Kickstarter reward for everyone who backed us at the “Soft Opening” level) will indeed feature the very first time we’ll be serving beer. First shipments are arriving tomorrow afternoon in time to be chilled before our guests’ arrival.

The flipside of this stellar news is that as of 5 p.m. tonight – just mere hours from now – The Raygun Lounge becomes an exclusive 21+ establishment. We’re in talks with our new neighbors, the Black Coffee Co-op, to provide alternative gaming event options for our fans and friends under the age of 21. We’ll release more details on that exciting collaboration once we sleep off tomorrow’s inevitable hangover.

September 19, 2012 / by Eric

One of the main things that I’ve learned to love about roleplaying games is sub-optimal decision making. Because while, yes, you could form a perfectly executed plan utilizing all of your team’s key bonuses and attributes and attack your enemy from a 45 degree angle perfecting the flanking move you’ve been leveling towards for the past 6 months, you could also take your younger brother’s suggestion, dress up like goats and try to infiltrate the local Shepherd Association’s Druid Circle festival to learn about the secret entrance that he’s somehow sure that they’re going to know about.

Now, I don’t know about you, but, as a viewer, I’m going to vote goats. Which scene in the Schwarzenegger Conan film do you remember? The one where he fought and killed that giant snake? Or the one where he punched out the camel? The camel! You know it’s the camel. That and maybe when he threw that naked witch in the fire. Not the choreographed fight scenes which, supposedly, were the important parts. Hell, those unexpected side moments are what the only roleplaying game ever to be featured on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop is all about.


Fiasco, ladies and gentlemen, the Cohen Brothers-esque game of “high ambition and poor impulse control.”

I’m reminded of my love of intentionally sub-optimal decision making by two things this week.

First, by one of the Kickstarter-pledge-fulfillment roleplaying campaigns that I started on Sunday. When I wrote that pledge level in, I was afraid that I was going to get roped into running a very by-the-numbers high fantasy game about a quest for a ring. Oh, sorry, I meant a sword. Or something… I could never have even dared to conceive that I would be given the opportunity to run an Apocalypse World campaign about a traveling carnival of firebreathing androgynous transgendered sex cultists. That freakishly amazing campaign concept sprung whole cloth out of the players’ commitment to let one player choose all of their characters for them based on “whatever he thought would make them most uncomfortable.” While credit for this unique and memorable experience is certainly due in no small part to Vincent Baker’s brilliant game

I mean, just look at thing. Even in its natural environment it just oozes freaky.

it was really the players’ commitment to not just participate but revel in a sub-optimal decision making process that created us an amazing cast and setting that are going to be easy to have tons of fun rollicking through together.

And secondly, when I realized that I’d misunderstood the King County Health Department’s venue licensing guidelines and that I wasn’t going to be able to unveil my new hot food menu this Thursday. I’ve got a great menu lined up for you with a range of fun, tasty, easy to prepare items that are going to look great on our over-the-top square plates and before I can serve them to you, I have to go put on my goatskin and go punch out a camel.

Are we still opening? Hell yes. Let’s do this thing. Will there be a full bar? There won’t even be a kitchen. At least not one that I can legally serve you food out of. But let’s open doors anyways. Let’s do it sub-optimally and just see what happens. Because I know how Disney does it. I know how the Cheesecake Factory does it. And they’re boring. They cardboard the windows to ensure that you never see their laborers, they insure their insurance. But you, you lucky devil you, you get the full deal that I always promised. I’m building the place. I’m building it three steps forward and one step to the right with an occasional jump to the left.

Oh yeah. Are you feeling that?

And I’m bringing you along for the ride. Will it be bumpy? I hope so. Otherwise I’m going to look ridiculous in this goatskin.

mmm. fresh chupacabra.

We open doors this Thursday with what we’ve got. Amenities ranging from credit card processing to an accurate public calendar will follow as fast as they can and as slow as they do. I still project that we’ll be done with the place in about three years. Was this the most direct route that we could have taken to get here? No. We could have spent a lot more time talking to banks and a lot less time talking to you. I hope that you appreciate our choice to share with you our highly public and, at times, sub-optimal decision-making as much as we enjoy ongoingly making it.

I’ll see you at the lounge,

-Eric

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