Can’t go to Gen Con this year? Boy, Ben sure can relate. He isn’t that far removed from being unable to attend the annual pilgrimage to our RPG Holy Land.
A castle and its nearly impenetrable walls bring forth so many iconic fantasy images and magical movie memories. Those sky touching towers, readied archers, bubbling pots of oil, and an impassable portcullis all have RPG meaning to us. Thankfully, the crew over at Miniature Building Authority have the RPG terrain to do your own table right.
There are 11 different castle wall pieces to choose from including the Town Wall, Destroyed Wall, D-Tower, Sally Port, Inner Curved Wall, Outer Curve Wall, Beloved Gate House, 45 Degree Tower, Corner Tower, Tower Hoarding and Stairs. They’re all made for 25 mm scale and can drop into your multiple D&D settings in a pinch.
You can easily get by with a small starter set: 2 Town Walls and the Dwarven Forge Portcullis. Then slowly add a tower option. Then start to sprinkle in some classics like the Gate House and the Crumbled Wall.
Ben also loves terrain that invites lots of different miniatures to play. The WotC series has a myriad of fine choices (to help build variety in your different uses of this terrain).
Plus, it’s easy to inter mix these wall pieces with your existing terrain collection.. While doing Thunderspire Labyrinth’s Horned Hold, Ben had an absolute blast dressing up the MBA castle walls with Dwarven Forge and Hirst Arts pieces.
One of Ben’s first stops at Gencon is the MBA booth. The sheer volume of choices is pure shock and awe. That annual experience conveys the same reaction as the little boys outside the toy store window in a Christmas Story.
Many of the castle pieces are reasonably priced ($29.95 to $69.95) and it’s easy to add to your collection as you go.
Now whose turn is it anyway to storm the gates?
Questions to Ponder: Do you do a lot of village, high-walled assaults? Got a favorite castle-style RPG mod where this terrain would be useful? Got a preferred castle guard mini?
“The vendor hall is now closed.” Sparkly new treasures rest on your shelf. C’est la vie Gen Con 2010.
But wait! Consider some small to-do’s now that could turn into future big fun.
- Sheet of Sadness: Did you keep a quick running notes’ list so you had an easy reminder sheet for next year? If not, now’s the time to strike while the memory iron is hot. Real-life Ben examples: (1) bring travel-size Pepto (thanks so much abnormally huge Ram Burgers). (2) download the Gen Con iPhone app before the show (since finding specific booths in those crowds was painful).
- Thank You’s: Certainly you encountered some good gaming citizens or met some long-time heroes at the Con. What’s the harm in sending a quick tweet, email or wall post as a nice way to thank them for their hospitality or down-to-earthiness?
- Buddy Gifts: Set aside your game group gift now before it gets lost. Did you take a great buddy photo that fits nicely into a dollar store frame? Was there a t-shirt you nabbed that’s perfect for a holiday/birthday gift?
- Dire Piggy Bank: It is never too early to slowly start putting your gold coins away for next year. Did you have a little money left over? Excellent – put it in that cigar box now. Establish your reserve fund now for all that eventual loose change and birthday/holiday money. This is how Ben slowly amasses his spending money & it’s a major motivating force.
- Outlook Reminder: Gen Con 2011 is set for 8/4 thru 8/11. Enter in an outlook reminder January 26-ish so you’re prepared to call into the hotel block and nab that room right across the street from the convention center.
- Check the Tweets: Keep a close eye on Twitter and these common hash tags (#dnd, #gencon, #wotc) for all the great post Con articles and photos. It’s a virtual sea of D&D tranquility out there right now and you could be missing it.
- Inspiring Words: Start your own new list of goals for your game. If you weren’t inspired by all the amazing people you personally met and observed, it’s time to take a pulse and ensure you didn’t become undead during all those travel woes.
Questions to Ponder: What do you personally do now to help prepare for next year? Anything on our handy list that you find works well (or not so well)?
Ben dares thee to find a more drawn out, never-ending game debate than D&D 4th edition vs. all previous editions (but mostly D&D 3.5 edition). This RPG dispute has nearly taken on a north vs. south civil war mentality in the world of the InterGoogle.
The gang at the Pile thinks that all this pent up D&D edition anger is particularly silly. So much so, that we decided to make a little tongue-in-cheek video of our own on our YouTube channel. The classic iPhone vs. HTC vid was our inspiration. Xtranormal was our technology weapon of choice.
Of course, we absolutely love 4E for all the myriad of reasons mentioned in our comedic short. Still, we haven’t abandoned Dungeons and Dragons rich history. What tickles our funny bones is how angry and often irrational a few of the diehards get when discussing the D&D editions differences. Just remember the golden rule – any D&D is good D&D.
Enjoy a quick top 5 on why D&D 4E makes Ben so gosh darn happy:
- Latest and Greatest: WotC supports it with new monthly product releases.
- Enhanced Combat: Battles are much more diverse and interesting.
- Game Flow: The overall game moves quicker with a streamlined rule set.
- Role Play: Group determines RPG weight. Never been the edition’s job.
- Remembered Roots: Plenty of Gary G’s original ideas and love remain.
Finally, here are a couple fun online articles to peruse at your leisure:
- Boycotting 4th Edition D&D
- A Comparison of Content
- A GM’s First Impressions of D&D 4e: Looks Like Fun
- 3.5 E, older D&D and Pathfinder. What do D&D vets think of pathfinder
- Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Review
Questions to ponder: Which edition do you play most frequently? What is a pro of 4E? What is a pro of 3.5E? What is a con of 4E? What is a con of 3.5E? Will you ever try 4E? Will you ever go back to 3.5 or earlier? Do you play Pathfinder instead of 4E?
A wise gamer descends upon Indy this year with a plan. Here’s Ben’s Buyer’s Guide and the top 20 items on his radar when he hits the glorious Gen Con showroom floor. We’ve also intermingled some snapshots from previous pilgrimages.
Ben’s RPG Pile Gen Con Buyer’s Guide – the Top 20
- Dwarven Forge: Ben has to see the new Ruins set in person
- TerraClips: Interlocking d-tile-like terrain from WorldWorks
- Specialty Dice: Check out the Chessex specialty dice (on day 1)
- Metal Miniatures: Get a few hand-painted mins for future bosses
- Dungeon Master Tips Book: Find Sly Flourish for my hardcopy
- Mini Singles: Pan for single WotC minis for Pyramid of Shadows (our next mod)
- Terrain: Keep an eye out for new, portable terrain pieces
- Gen Con Memorabilia: Get the annual shirt (but go minimum 3X due to shrinkage)
- Miniature Building Authority: New 2010 buildings will be part of their amazing display
- Gale Force Nine: Get some smoke and ice walls
- Killer Breakfast: Tracy Hickman puts on a great show but buy in advance
- Dice Bags: Been on the lookout for some player pal dice bags
- Litko Tokens: Big hit at Origins (especially the invisibility ones)
- Steak and Shake: Inhale one of their classic shakes
- Confrontation: Snag their new mini releases
- Mage Knight: Find some singles for mini-makin’
- Ascheson Creations: Special molds and huge range of building choices
- Hirst Arts Booth: Love his displays, paint examples, new molds
- Wizards of the Coast: Don’t miss their 2011 product preview presentation
- Unknowns: And always on a mission to find the next great thing
Remember, a loose game plan saves time and helps manages one’s gold-piece budget. Your pre-convention strategy also ensures you don’t mutter the dreaded “I can’t believe I forgot to…” phrase on the flight back home.
Questions to Ponder: What did Ben forget? Do you have any specific gem hunts of your own in mind?
Your party’s trips back to town can be real snoozers. Thank goodness there’s lot of ways to fix this common game-drag problem. As a DM, Ben drops in a couple buildings and simple accessories to give these otherwise humdrum affairs a real boost.
When you build street scenes, a whole new world of intrigue opens up. You can add new side quests. Run a skill challenge (courtesy of This is my Game). Or, drop in a little more story dialogue interaction. Any or all of these module ideas brightens up game play and enhances the main plot.
And anyways, BensRPGPile.com was long overdue for another building review. This time Ben thought a simple, yet effective multi-use structure would do the trick. Ben snagged this cottage from Miniature Building Authority at an earlier Gen Con. He’s used this pre-painted, out-of-the-box piece to represent an out-of-the-way outpost and a general store.
MBA’s superior quality and attention to detail once again shine through. A few of these buildings are a must for any Dungeon Master’s arsenal. Pop open a box, place it on a Battlemat and let your imagination take you the rest of the RPG way.
Ben’s RPG Pile took a turn for the very bestest…thanks to another successful trip to the holy land that is called Gencon. With feverish unpacking/sorting and daily UPS drops, it seemed best for this week’s entry to just give a couple sneak peak photos of the many glorious reviews to come.
Fabulous finds came from Wizards of the Coast (minis mania, my friends), Lifelike Little Landscapes, The Army Painter, Arena Gear, Hirst Arts, Miniature Building Authority, Chessex, Paizo, Dark-Platypus Studios, XDM, and many, many more.
All of these items are eventually utilized in our monthly game sessions and then reviewed in this blog and via recorded game footage on www.Justin.tv/bendbuddy.
Ben can’t wait to show you each kick-ass-eth piece from the pile of goodness. Stay tuned!