Feb 28, 2006

Adventure Lantern issue 3

As expected, the March issue of Adventure Lantern is available for download in February. Typical AL punctuality, along with a typically excellent free gaming magazine in PDF. In the 99 pages of AL you will find (beside my review of Bone: Out from Boneville): Previews of Scavenger Hunt, Darkstar, Last Half of Darkness: Beyond the Spirit's Eye, Lunar Deep, more than 15 (mostly adventure game) reviews and two illustrated walkthroughs for Agon and Hope Springs Eternal.

Visit the Adventure Lantern site, or download the issue directly by clicking here.

For more video gaming fun take a look at a list of (around) 30 excellent and free games, at reviews of And Then There Were None or Telltale Texas Hold 'Em and at a feature on Warhammer based PC games.

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Feb 27, 2006

Museum Monday #3

Monday. As always. And as if this weren't enough, I have to write another entry for the (up to now) regular Monday Museum. As usual, I, along with the rest of humanity, feel really-really tired and -to be frank- a tad threatened. In typical Monday (or cosmic horror) fashion. One could also observe my total lack of originality, as well as the Monday related banality.

Still. Another virtual museum is waiting for you. This time it's about the Games Workshop gaming range, which includes dozens of board games and quite a few wargames. Vintage stuff. Try to enjoy yourselves by following this link. It's a rather impressive site.

Previously on Museum Monday: Museum Monday #1 and of course Museum Monday #2

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Feb 26, 2006

PC Review: 'Telltale Texas Hold’ Em'

Poker Ladies. The sinuous ladies, that haunted my early youth. A sexy coin-op money-sink, that forced me to (illegally, according to my age at the time) enter seedy arcades in order to see badly-drawn manga-styled nude ladies doing naughty stuff. I did learn to play the American 52-card version of poker though, and I was only 13. Now, that’s something I call a good start in my life. And I owe it all to Poker Ladies. I could have of course waited for something more than a decade and enjoy their dancing for free in MAME, but that would have been too late. No one can pull through high school and university without decent poker skills, just like nowadays nobody can avoid stupidly watching Texas Hold’em tournaments on TV.

Telltale Texas Hold’Em is not on TV, it’s on the PC instead. It was actually the first game released by the (hopefully) adventure maestros of Telltale, and has been around for quite some time. It is apparently a poker game. Of the Texas Hold’Em variety. This of course is neither a serious gambler’s tutoring software instructor, nor a hardcore/ultra-powerful simulation. Even though Telltale Texas Hold’em does play a decent and varied poker game, its great appeal is the atmosphere and the characters. Characters and atmosphere in a poker game I hear you say? Well, yes. You’ll be playing against four lovingly animated and fully 3d characters, each sporting a unique personality and thus a unique playing style. Their mid-game banter is excellent, amusing and at times downright funny, their facial expressions are great, and the whole thing is well directed. The camera pans, cuts and zooms correctly, the players look suspiciously around, move their chips, Grandma talks about her dead husbands and Boris tries to be a quite desperate bully. Voice acting is superb, and really helps flesh out those four quirky characters you’ll be gambling against. Characters that are a testimony to Telltale’s origins: none other than the 90s Lucasarts adventures.

The most impressive part of this game is the variety and quantity of the dialog included. You’ll need to play for quite some time before some expressions start feeling overused and even after 25 hours of poker action you’ll still hear the odd unexpected line and/or joke. Great writing and smart programming make all this possible in a download that’s less than 20 megas. Unfortunately not much else is included in those less-than-20- megas. There is only one mode of play, only 4 characters to play against, one room to gamble in, one possible screen resolution and a too simple tutorial/introduction text.

On the other hand, Telltale Texas Hold ‘Em only costs $12.99,and will definitely provide you with hours and hours of mindless entertainment. After all, you will quickly learn when to fold, when to raise your bet, when to bluff or when to call the other characters’ bluff.

Visit the official website and have a look. Download the demo; it’s the least you can offer yourselves.

That’s a (seven) out of (ten)

. . . . . . . . . . . .

-Related Gnome's Lair articles: Telltale (brand new) news, More than 30 hand-picked free pc games, Apprentice Deluxe Review, Museum Monday #1, Call of Cthulhu and Warhammer video games features, Civilization 4 review, And Then There Were None Review.

As Featured On Ezine Articles

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Feb 24, 2006

Our freshly hand-picked free games selection

This "collage", featuring screenshots from the games I'll soon be leading you to, is a testimony to my total lack of artistic skill. The only thing, that would actually help me persuade DADA revolutionaries to spare my life, is that through this (rather horrid) collage, I, too, am -even without consciously pursuing it- bringing western art closer to its collapse. Such an argument would definitely not help, in the event of encountering any other militant (or not) artist group. The surrealist would shoot me, and so would Andy Warhol.

(Still. You can consider it sabotage comrades! DADA!)

For the rest of you people, who care not for art (or Art), who don't really understand what I'm talking about, things will immediately get a lot simpler: Free Gamezzz! Downloadz! Yeah!!! Al nite !!11!! Kewll! (Free legal game downloads for the literate among you)

All of the games presented here(and obviously linked to), were carefully and lovingly hand picked. They are a 100% biological products and have been intensively tested to guarantee your satisfaction. None are mods, or require any kind of additional software or lubricant. Many of them are adventures and there even are some RPGs and MMORPGs.

Well, without any more rambling, let me present you with the list of these games, a.k.a. The List!

(Oh, for the cheap bastards that feel like digging for more freebies, Liberated Games and Legal Torrents should make a nice starting point)

The List (TM):

Adventures of Fatman: An excellent and well-produced adventure game, in the style of the old Lucasarts ones. Recently released as freeware.

Beneath a Steel Sky: Created by Revolution Software back in 1994 for the Amiga and the PC and based on Dave Gibbons' artistic vision, this is a perfect free download. A cult classic nonetheless.

Room War: A very small first person flyer-shooter, that (in my case at least) proved to be extremely addictive. Decent 3d graphics and a lot of Alienware-advertising textures.

Porrasturvat: Throw people off a stair. A production that is considered an absolute classic, as long as you know what scene, the demoscene is.

Grand Theft Auto: Yes, the same that spawned the GTA: San Andreas smash hit. It is offered for free, along with GTA2 and Wild Metal, by the beautiful, magnificent, generous and over-all good guys of Rockstar!

Cedric and the Revolution: An adventure. Follow the link, read the review and (if interested) download it. Simple as that.

Halo Zero: HALO in 2d? Yes. HALO in 2d. Oldschool gaming with a French contemporary touch...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The best and funniest text adventure ever created, was written by the late and much beloved Douglas Adams, and is offered in an enhanced and free version by the BBC.

The Ur-Quan Masters: This is basically the classic Star Control 2, only enhanced and with much better graphics (and deeper storyline etc). The name-change was due to legal reasons. Of course.

Dofus is a MMO. Almost a MMORPG, but more tactical, thus a MMOTRPG. Still, it looks great, plays better and it's free.

Air Hockey: Obvious. Air Hockey.

Cirque de Zale: A 2d, 3rd person point-and-click adventure. Very good humor, nice graphics and quite easy. Very easy actually. Still a weird, funny little game.

Heroquest: The old (classic some might argue) MB and Games Workshop board game on PC. Quite entertaining and doesn't cost a thing.

FreeCiv: Remember Civilization 4? Well, FreeCiv isn't nearly as good, looks dated and simple, but it's free. And it is Civ (FreeCiv, but still...)

War Rock: Shoot people in the head.

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory: Shoot more people in the head.

Bloom: Be a flower! Or something like that, in a beautiful and innovative game.

Dink Smallwood: The well known freeware, zelda-like RPG. Formerly a commercial game.

Hacker: Be a Hacker in a (I believe, I guess, I don't really know) rather realistic game.

Star Wraith 2: A space shooter created in Dark Basic. Rather basic, but good fun. They actually used to sell this game(!). Apparently a Star Wraith 1 must have existed too.

Apprentice: Already reviewed by me. Read the review. Then enjoy it (the game that is, not the review, which is quite enjoyable too. Anyway. You know what I mean...)

S.W.I.N.E.: I guess most people refer to it as SWINE, and believe it is a very good RTS(for a freeware at least).

Defender of the Crown: The old arcade-strategy-action classic by Cinemaware, is now being brought back to you by Cinemaware. Wow!

Eye of the Kraken: An amazing, strange and funny-at-times 3rd person adventure. It's a full blown former-commercial production.

No-Action Jackson: Another adventure, only not a professional one. It is excellent though. Great cartoon graphics, good dialog, good jokes, Lucasarts style and a plot that has to do with (pen and paper) RPGs.

Anarchy Online: The well known commercial, contemporary MMORPG. Well, part of it is free. Go play with the big boys.

DOOM, the roguelike: Combine ascii graphics, Rogue dungeon-based gameplay and the Doom atmosphere and this is what you get.

T2002: Or, to be more precise, Turrican 2002. Get it? Go get it now!

[Update: Look, here. Oh No! More than 60 extra free games!!]

And if this is not enough, you could read some more (related?) Gnome's Lair articles: Free C64 games, a non-violent Quake mod, Ultima 5:Lazarus mod, a Doom 3 mod, Freeware Board Games, Call of Cthulhu games, Warhammer video games

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Feb 22, 2006

The stars seem to be quite right. Beware.

Do you know what this beautiful picture is all about? Do you? Of course you don't. Visit its creators' site and find more about it.

I don't feel like discussing pretty pictures. What I want to -briefly- write about is The Call of Cthulhu. Not the original short story trilogy by Lovecraft per se (in case you 've never heard of Call of Cthulhu you definitely need to go to school; yes,again, and MU seems like an appropriate idea), but more about its gaming and not-so-gaming related cross-media adaptations.

The oldest, and already enjoying its 6th edition, is Chaosium's excellent Call of Cthulhu RPG. It is a beautiful, idiosyncratic and very simple Roleplaying system, that features the best (ever) published scenarios and a rather impressive way of handling player character insanity. I can't recommend this game enough, but I can warn you: there is also a d20 version of CoC. Please avoid it.

Chaosium and Fantasy Flight Games have (avoiding more d20 flops) also produced a board game (actually updated and "deluxed" an older one). Arkham Horror. In its current version, it is one of the best board games for the horror aficionados, with a rich rules set and great production values. It might even remind you of R. Knizia's Lord of the Rings.

Then we have Shadow of the Comet, not a Lovecraft-inspired, but a true, 100% Lovecraft adventure game for the PC, crafted by French developers Infogrames, back in the early nineties. According to many, one of the better horror adventures ever created, it does have its little interface problems (the mouse controlled version is actually worse), but it oozes atmosphere, like an octopus oozes er... octopus-fluid. And you really shouldn't have any problem finding and downloading the game. It's really easy. Really. And since you'll be all playing this game, and you all think you might need a walkthrough, which you will, here is one.

Finally, and if you really want to feel Lovecraft's cosmic terror, take a look at what some LEGO bricks can create, especially when positioned in their arcane-mystical places. (Yes, I do know that LEGO bricks are not a game-thingy, but a toy-thingy. Still. They can be fun, and even used as Warhammer scenery).

-Related Gnome's Lair articles: A vintage review of D&D 1st edition, board game reviews of Zombies!!! and Class Struggle, Freeware board games, a look at Warhammer video games, a freeware adventure game review, Museum Monday.

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Warhammer rumors. Again.

Avoiding any futile attempts for a humorous introduction to this post, I will try to more-or-less go straight to the point. Warhammer Fantasy Battles 7th edition is just around the corner, and so are the Orcs '‘n' Goblins. As a matter of fact, so is the boxed Warhammer starter set. I know I have already dealt with these matters (take a look here, here or here), but I am doing so again, in a hopefully more thorough way. Without further ado then, let me present you with those Warhammer rumors, that are almost as good as news.

Slaughter at Skull Pass
Even though the name Slaughter at Skull Pass is the most probable one, one can never be sure. What I (and now you) can be sure of, is that there will be a Warhammer starter set, featuring Dwarfs and Goblins, and including an abridged version of the 7th edition rulebook, a beginner's guide with relevant scenarios, quite a lot of miniatures and some scenery. The forces included will be:

1 Night Goblin Boss
1 Night Goblin Shaman
20 Night Goblins with bows
40 Night Goblins with spears
10 Forest Goblins Spider Riders
1 Troll

1 Thane
1 Slayer
12 Warriors
8 Miners
10 Thunderers
1 Cannon with crew

For pictures of the (plastic) miniatures, take a look at my Whispers of a new Waagh post, and follow the relevant links.

Orcs and Goblins
Orcs and Goblins are definitely the next army to be released by Games Workshop, and their already rich armylist will expand, in order to -–once again- include the Forest Goblins. Apparently their -now skirmishing- Spider Riders too. New units will include a Giant Spider, while most of the armylist will remain fundamentally the same, only more streamlined. Rules for fanatics and squigs will be greatly simplified, and the army will benefit from being either Orc (Orc chariots become 2 for 1 slot) or Goblin-led (Goblin warmachines become 2:1). You might even get a choice to field a powerful army, that isn'’t relying on 8 levels of magic. Finally, a great part of the miniature line will be updated and released in plastic, just like the new Giant (picture taken from It'’s only toy soldiers blog; you can a find an official one at the Games Workshop site).
With their army book out now, Dwarf players can a only look forward to a few more plastic kits, and should be happy to know, that a very interesting and rather official Q&A has been released at Bugman's Brewery.

Rumors aside, you -oh, most obsessed with miniatures reader- might be interested in my Warhammer tactics article, the Monsters and Mercenaries Collector's Guide Review or a presentation of Warhammer based video games.

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Feb 20, 2006

Museum Monday #2

Monday. Dangerous as ever, but also the time for (tadah) Museum Monday (tadah-tadah)! Hooray! (Ahem) Update your antivirus and anti-spyware software, pray for the stability of your Internet connection, and follow a link provided by a gnome to a virtual museum.

This Monday it's all about Magnetic Scrolls, the legendary company that produced beautiful hybrids of text and graphic adventures, in an era when no-one knew the pretentious term interactive fiction. Visit the Magnetic Scrolls Chronicles website for a trip down memory lane or for a lesson on gaming history.

Previously on Museum Monday: Museum Monday #1

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Feb 19, 2006

Mobile phone NES. What's next?

What will people think of next? Is it the inflatable eatable banana or the mobile phone NES emulator? Apparently it's the emulator. Great.

Follow this link and add another questionable feature to your phone. Not as pointless as its integrated camera, and definitely cheaper and better than most phone games out there(there is even a free demo), but pointless nonetheless.
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Feb 18, 2006

Warhammer 7th edition: Slaughter at Skull Pass? (perhaps...)

This rather interesting picture, that first appeared on the German gaming site Kriegshammer, is supposed to be an official mockup of the forthcoming Warhammer boxed set. Seems, that the idea behind this, is more like the one behind the Warhammer 40k Battle for Macragge starter set, and less like the one behind the Warhammer 6th edition boxed set. Quite good news for new players, definitely cheaper, but without a proper, full-blown rulebook for the rest of us .

The pic (click on it, and see the glorious detail) does indeed seem consistent with rumors and so-far leaked pictures, and should be rather close to the final Games Workshop product. People speculate it might be called Slaughter at Skull Pass. You could of course find out what the right kind of people, the ones at the Warhammer forum or at Warseer, believe.

Finally, you -wisest of readers- might be interested in my Warhammer tactics article, the Monsters and Mercenaries Collector's Guide Review or a retrospective presentation of Warhammer based video games.

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Feb 16, 2006

Sam & Max tell Bone and Dank a tale

Telltale, a beacon of hope for us adventure gamers, and creators of the Bone: Out from Boneville game (based on Jeff Smith's comic books, and soon to be reviewed by me for Adventure Lantern), have leaked information and screenshots regarding its bony sequel Bone: The Great Cow Race. Adventure Gamers, the hosts of said screenshots, have also posted an apparently relevant preview.

And to justify this post's title, I 'll let you know, that Telltale have posted more Sam & Max and Dank webcomics.

[Update 25 Feb. 06] More Bone 2 info at Gamasutra.

You might also be interested in my reviews of And Then There Were None and of Apprentice Deluxe.

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More Beta testers wanted

Are you enjoying your copy of Half Life 2? Would you like to help a young and promising (and sometimes confused) game designer? Can you actually understand what this post is all about? All the answers you could ever want are there. Where? There.

And here is a relevant teaser pic:

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Feb 15, 2006

Classic Doom (doom-doom)

Doom 3 was mediocre at best. Good looking, but offering cheap thrills. The original Doom was great and action packed, but released during the (early) 90s. The beautiful minds of beautiful people were consequently put to work, and the Classic Doom mod for Doom 3 was born. Hop over to this place and grab it. That's all. Nice, simple, nostalgic, fun, impressive and free... Feels quite '93 too.

Related Gnome's Lair articles include: a mod for Quake and one for Dungeon Siege.

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Feb 14, 2006

The digital and quite interactive Old World

The fact that thousands of grown men still play with toy soldiers, despite being a sad sociological truth, is also a great opportunity for greedy profit. Games Workshop, a company that started out by creating simple wooden toys, is the company that has so far exploited this manly need (in its fantasy version at least) and has created the all-powerful, all singing and all dancing Warhammer franchise. But selling toy soldiers can never be enough. Warhammer, originally and at heart a tabletop miniature paint’em up strategic game, was soon (if 15 years are considered a small time frame) transported to the digital media.

For example: You, me and everybody who will be willing to pay around 50 euros (~55$), will soon be able to enjoy the forthcoming (obviously) and much hyped RTS (Real Time Strategy for the uninitiated) Warhammer: Mark of Chaos. It will definitely be a looker, a hypothetically faithful adaptation of the Warhammer 6th edition rules and the Old World background, and should be out by the end of 2006. In case you would like to read a fine preview, take a look at what either IGN or Namco have to tell you. What I’m going to talk about here instead, are the Warhammer video games of yore, which surprisingly haven’t been numerous. The futuristic Warhammer 40,000 has until now proven a more lucrative franchise, as many more pc and console outings prove. Allow me to remind you of the recent and rather successful Dawn of War, the first Games Workshop video game to actually hit the charts.

On with Warhammer then… Let’s start from a game that was published by Micro League back in 1995, was set in the Warhammer world, but wasn’t a Warhammer game per se. It was Blood Bowl, or to be more precise, an extremely faithful adaptation of the “Specialist” Games Workshop hybrid of board-miniature-sports game Blood Bowl, that was quite cleverly named Blood Bowl too. And as you should have imagined, Blood Bowl was something like rugby or American Football, only more brutal, almost funny and 100% turn based. Its stars were Orcs, Trolls, Elves (Dark or vanilla flavoured), even Halfings or Zombies. The rules for both the board and the pc game, were simple, allowed for a huge variety of tactics and made an excellent game.

Then, Mindscape published Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat in 1995, making that video gaming year the most Warhammer crowded one ever. The game was a very interesting RTS game without any resource-gathering mechanic whatsoever, that was based on the 5th edition of the Warhammer rules and was the first RTS sporting a full-blown 3d graphics engine (and beautiful 2d cut-scenes too). Shadow of the Horned Rat had an engrossing story line, was a real tactical challenge, but also one of the most cruelly difficult games ever. Of the few people who actually played it, nobody (to my knowledge) finished the damn thing. The controls of the pc version didn’t help very much either, even though I do believe that executing an elegant flank charge with a cavalry regiment in real life has to be much harder. The PlayStation version though, did get the controls almost right.

So did the game’s 1998 sequel Warhammer: Dark Omen. It was still painfully unfair to the player mind you, but at least one felt one stood a chance. The graphics were, and even by today’s standards still are, brilliant and the story included Undead sorcerers and nasty necromantic magic. Joy. You can still find a review of the game at the Home of the Underdogs.

And… that’s all. Believe it or not, these three games are all the Warhammer based video games ever released. This consequently leads to a rather short article (post), that I could extend by referring to the story of the ill-fated Warhammer Online MMORPG. But I wont. I will instead point you the direction of our dear Wikipedia.

Interested in more Warhammer related material? Take a look at my tactics article, or perhaps at a review of the Monsters and Mercenaries Collectors Guide. If, on the other hand, you prefer reading about PC Games, browse through reviews of Namco Museum, Apprentice Deluxe, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Civilization 4 or And Then There Were None.

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Feb 13, 2006

Museum Monday #1

Monday. Things could be worse; it still is Monday though. Avoid open spaces, keep a low profile and act in a Garfield way (not the Richard, the other one) . Even if your Internet connection isn't the best one, try to avoid leaving your place. Visit virtual museums instead. They are interesting, nostalgia provoking, well put together and above all safe (safe if -of course- we exclude cyber-terrorism and malware- oh,and viruses too. At least you can't hurt yourself in a physical way...).

This Monday I propose you either visit the Lucasarts, or the Sierra museum. Make your choice, but for the love of god, do be careful...

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Feb 12, 2006

Grim Fandango 2? Don't get your hopes up...

The (excellent) Department of Death, a Grim Fandango fan site, just published a probably bogus email, that has to do with developments on the Grim Fandago 2 front. I for one, didn't actually know such a front existed (as the original Grim Fandango didn't sell too well); then again one never ceases to be amazed... But please, do judge for yourselves. Hop over to dearest D.O.D. and have a look for thyselves, oh, most wise and noble readers.

Just don't get your hopes up. Even if the rumors were true, and Grim Fandango 2 is in (pre) production, we all remember what happened to Sam and Max: Freelance Police. Don't we?

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Feb 11, 2006

Atari to return to the graveyard?

Everyone knows that the company, we are currently referring to as Atari, is not the real Atari. Not the Atari of 2600, ST, Falcon, Lynx and Jaguar fame (or infamy), not the ancient video gaming behemoth. Atari is just a name French gaming giant Infogrames bought some years ago... But still, what a name it is. And let's not forget that contemporary Atari was (among other things) the publisher of the radical and quite stunning Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in the US), and was (is?) supposed to launch the retro console Atari Flashback 2.0 (for more info on Flashback and Flashback 2.0 take a look here).

Unfortunately, the currently European, formerly US, and always Japanese sounding company seems to be in trouble... again. After a financially disastrous 3rd quarter and huge losses, Atari has announced that the company's existence is in doubt. For more information visit the official Atari website, engadget or the very enlightening Yahoo!finance.

Consider the following picture a tribute to (surprise-surprise) Atari:

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Feb 10, 2006

Warhammer Tactics: 6th edition diverting

Diverting is more of a maneuver than a tactic. Of course, if you consider yourself a veteran Warhammer player, you should already know this rather obvious fact, and I guess such a little trick might be old news to you. For people though, that are either new gamers, or too ancient ones, who have missed the intricacies of Warhammer 6th ed., diverting is a little something they have to master.

Diverting is based on a-not-so-realistic rule stated in the BRB (Big Red Book or simply the Warhammer Fantasy Battles Rulebook), that forces a charging unit to align itself with the defending one, thus being subject to important direction changes. And as everyone and his dog will be able to tell you, movement is the single most important phase of a Warhammer match (game?). As diverting is a way to get rid of, delay, out-maneuver and generally harass powerful units such as a Brettonian lance or those pesky Chaos Knights, and as the diverting unit tends to get horribly massacred (and mashed into a pulp -just like Brave Sir Robin), the best diverters seem to be the cheapest ones. A depleted goblin unit, a Great Eagle or some imperial militiamen should do the job... Oh, and please try to avoid using skirmishers... You'll also be avoiding lengthy arguments with/against your opponent.

Just in order to make diverting comprehensible, here is a basic example of a devious diversion...

pic1. The Chaos Knights are threatening the entire Orc and Goblin battle line...

pic2. The presence of a 10 Orc (not) strong unit is an obstacle they'd have to either avoid (and loose precious turns) or destroy....

pic3. Seems like the Chaos Knights chose to attack. With a little luck they might loose combat, but even if they don't, they are now facing a new direction...

pic4. Should they win combat or even overrun, they would expose their flank or even use up another 2 turns to reposition themselves... Sweet, isn't it?

P.S. For further Warhammer related reading take a look at some rumors (news actually) and at a warhammer (not army) book review. For even further reading visit a library.

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Feb 8, 2006

One month of gnomish rants (and raves and reviews)

Gnome's Lair (the gaming blog-site-thingie you are currently visiting) has been online for one full month, and this seems just like a 42nd post. Since Blogger (gnomeslair's noble hosting company) hasn't been kind enough to implement archive categories yet, and since I haven't managed to properly index (in a stylish and simple way) my posts and articles, I am now providing you with links to the ones I believe are the most interesting. Apparently, they are less than 41...
(you can of course use the monthly archives to access every post on Gnome's Lair)

PC Game reviews of: Namco Museum, Civilization 4, Star Wars Battlefront II, And Then There Were None, Apprentice Deluxe.

Board Game reviews of: Zombies!!! and Class Struggle, along with an article on freeware board games on the Internet.

PC Game mod presentations for Quake and Dungeon Siege.

A vintage review of Dungeons and Dragons along with some RPG inspired artwork and a lovingly handcrafted picture of a gnome.

A review of the new Atari Flashback console and some retro related (and hand-picked) links.

Warhammer rumors (1,2) and a Warhammer related review.

And finally an interview with Ugur of Adventure Lantern fame, a game design-theory related book presentation and a list of favorite blogs and sites...

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Feb 7, 2006

Warhammer: Whispers of a new Waaagh...

It seems the early rumors were (for once) true. The new boxed set of the forthcoming Warhammer 7th edition is indeed going to include dwarfs and goblins. Apparently, the good ol' goblin spider riders will be making an impressive return too.

For more pictures and info, follow these links: link#1 (in German, but pictures are worth a thousand words -aren't they?) and link#2 (this one is in English).

If, for some peculiar reason, further gnomish Warhammer related material is your thing, you could take a look at a (quite) relevant review and an orcish rumor.

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C64 Walkthroughs

I've already pointed you (yes you, loyal reader) to a more than satisfactory C64 game emulation site. Now, I am showing you the way to an exhaustive C64 walkthrough compilation.
...This is the way.

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Feb 6, 2006

Playgrounds of note

Everybody does it, and now I am doing it too...
Ladies and gentlemen, dear readers, friends and comrades, here is a list of my (currently) favorite gaming, tech, RPG, gnome or whatever related blogs:

Yehuda's board game and gaming blog.
Game Over Yeah console gaming blog.
Mike's (he is a games designer, he is) excellent Power Up blog.
Ross' console focused Pro Gamer.
The quite philosophical Game Table.
The tech-centered Technocrat Soapbox.
Matt Forbeck's (of Blood Bowl fame) official blog.
Re:retro a sarcastic retro gaming blog.
Roll dice and kick ass with a thing for Games Workshop.

'nuff said.

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Feb 5, 2006

Atari hardware strikes back with ‘Atari Flashback’

We all know that Atari no longer actually is Atari. It is just another game publishing brand name. But what happens when the executives running such a company decide to tap into its legendary hardware fame? Atari Flashback. That'’s what.

Atari Flashback is (theoretically) a retro gamer'’s wet dream. An Atari 7800 styled console (only smaller, without a cartridge slot and with a cheaper build), that runs on a normal AC adapter, includes 20 built-in Atari 2600 and 7800 games, and costs less than a contemporary pc game (and much less than a XBOX 360 one). You even get two 7800 styled joysticks thrown in the bargain.

Among the included games, some gems of the early video gaming history are to be found: Adventure, Breakout, Canyon Bomber, Revenge, Food Fight, Haunted House, Asteroids, Centipede, Warlords. You'’ll also get the dubious pleasure of experiencing the previously unreleased Atari version of the famous Saboteur. Just don'’t expect all those games to run as smoothly as they used to on the old machines. Atari Flashback is definitely not a true 7800 and it shows. Most of the games are emulated and a lot of them have serious gameplay, music or graphic glitches (Food Fight for example is a prime offender).

So... Should you buy this small retro-gadget? Depends. Atari Flashback is great value for the average (casual some might call him) gamer. The hardcore retro fan, on the other hand, will spot the various problems and the emulation inconsistencies, and might just have to wait for the Atari Flashback 2.0.

Anyway. Just take a look at the official webpage or (even better) at my retro related articles and posts. This would be a good staring point.

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Feb 3, 2006

ten gnomish questions / Adventure Lantern's Ugur Sener

The ten gnomish questions are, as most of you must have already gathered, the interviewing format I am now and will forever (and ever) be using. The format is perfect. It's the questions I am worried about. I do hope that I will eventually manage to ask the most intriguing ones around this corner of the Net, but for the time being, I guess you'll just have to put up with my (rather puny) journalistic skills.

Anyway. Ugur Sener, the founder and all-around chief/good-guy of my favorite video (+adventure) gaming e-zine Adventure Lantern, was unlucky enough to be the first person interviewed on gnomeslair. Without further ado, let me present you with his answers (and unfortunately with my questions too):

1. Please state your name, age and favorite alcoholic drink.
Ugur Sener. 23 (turning 24 on March 2nd). I am not much of a drinker, but let's go with margaritas.

2. What are your gaming interests?
Video games are definitely my main interest. I have been playing them since I was 7 years old. I currently play games on my PC, PS2, and GameCube. Adventure is definitely my favorite genre, there'’s really no contest. I'’ve been hooked since a friend of mine showed me the first Monkey Island game many years ago. I also greatly enjoy RPG, strategy, and action-adventure games, but I'’ll give just about any video game a try.

I am also a big fan of pen and paper RPGs. I have been playing them for about 6 or 7 years. I ran my fair share of campaigns, participated in many others as a player, and have more character sheets than I care to count. Back in college I even started a club for role-playing games. My friends took over its administration after I graduated.

Finally, I am always partial to a good board game. My wife has a nice collection and we both love to play board games every time we find enough people to participate.

3. How would you describe Adventure Lantern?
Adventure Lantern is an electronic gaming magazine focused on adventure games. It is also a Web site that features the contents of the magazine and additional articles in HTML format.

AL is still a brand new site and our archives are humble at best. However, thanks to the efforts of the staff members, I believe we have a lot of potential for growth.

From a more personal point of view, AL has given me the opportunity to do something I truly enjoy and get more out of the games I play.

4. What is Adventure Lantern'’s history (so far)?
Despite the fact that the site has only been open for about two months, we have somewhat of an '“interesting' history. AL actually started up as a partnership. Along with my occasional contributions to Just Adventure, I had started writing for a second small adventure gaming site. The owner and I eventually decided to start a partnership and opened Adventure Lantern.
Unfortunately, various differences of opinion eventually led to our separation. The co-owner and the staff that came from the older site decided to go in a different direction than AL. I believe this happened about a week before we were planning to release our first issue. However, the remaining staff members (Wendy, Neetie, Suz, and Berent) really came through to my aid. We were able to pull together the first issue at the very last minute and successfully publish it on January 1st.

During our second month, things ran much more smoothly. Our active staff doubled in size and we were able to post a number of articles throughout the month. I believe we were able to recover from our initial setback, and I am looking forward to our March issue.

5. What kind of games will Adventure Lantern cover?
Adventure Lantern will be focused on adventure games. Our main goal is to provide information about current adventure games while building up our archives with coverage on older titles. However, we are not fully dedicated to a single genre. We do occasionally extend our coverage to other types of games. This is mainly to broaden the site'’s scope.

6. How has the gaming community reacted towards the e-zine?
I can only answer this based on the feedback I received or saw on other sites and forums across the Web. Overall, I have seen a good deal of positive feedback. Some readers were excited to see another site talking about adventure games. It'’s been especially great to see random posts on forums talking about the launch of Adventure Lantern.

However, some readers did complain about the inclusion of non-adventure games in the magazine. A couple of members of the Just Adventure forum also informed me that some of our reviews gave them the impression that we picked our favorite games for the first issue.

Of course I am always open to any kind of comments about the site. There is no way we can create a magazine that will please every single gamer, but we can certainly try to make improvements in many areas.

7. Why did you choose to run an Adventure Lantern site parallel to the e-zine?
The idea is to make the site more accessible. Our February issue ended up being around 120 pages. Even after compressing the images and zipping up the magazine, it is still a 5 MB download. I want to make sure the readers who do not have fast Internet connections have a way of getting to our articles.

I also hope that making the articles accessible in HTML format will help locate them when we have a number of issues of the magazine. I wouldn't want anybody to have to download a number of issues trying to find a specific article.

8. What are the future plans for Adventure Lantern?
There are a lot of things I would like to do with Adventure Lantern. The first objective is to start offering more current content to our readers. I would like Adventure Lantern to be providing coverage on new games as soon as they are released.

Another objective is to strengthen our archives throughout 2006. I would like to see us host at least a hundred reviews before the site is six months old. I would also like to improve the site UI and include more dynamic functionality. Unfortunately, a lot of that has to wait until I can purchase personal copies of Web site development tools I use at my day job.

In the long run, I do have plans to offer Adventure Lantern in multiple languages. I think it would also be interesting to feature at least small sections on other types of gaming such as pen and paper RPGs or board games. I also have pipe dreams like offering Adventure Lantern as an actual printed magazine someday, but we'Â’ll see how that one goes.

9. Tell us a bit about your journalistic and reviewing work for Just Adventure+.
I have been an avid reader of Just Adventure since 2001. I originally joined the staff in 2003 to write about some older adventure games. I wanted to be involved in making the Just Adventure archives more complete. Then I stayed on as an occasional contributor.

I am not exactly the most active member of the Just Adventure staff, but the experience has been really wonderful. The site owner and editor Randy Sluganski has always been kind and supportive towards me. I think Just Adventure is a truly great source of information for any adventure gamer.

10. How would you describe the current state of the adventure gaming scene?
I am very enthusiastic about adventure games in 2006. There are a number of titles nearing completion, not to mention a host of others that have been recently announced. This could be a truly great year for adventure gamers with a multitude of titles to keep us busy. I am personally excited to see the evolution of our genre and all the games coming our way.

(11.?) Thanks a lot mate. And good luck.

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