Monthly Archives: June 2015

Tabled For Discussion: The Quiet Year


Villages, and the precarious situations they find themselves in, are a staple of RPG adventures. Each one has their problems, whether they built themselves on top of a portal to hell or attracted the interest of local dragons, super mutants, alien doppelgangers, and so on. The Quiet Year draws on these elements but invites you to take a bird’s eye view of the unfolding drama. Oh sure, you might have caused the drama but it’s all in the game.

The Quiet Year is a world building game for 2-4 players, centered around a struggling community in the post-apocalypse. Your small town of a hundred souls attempts to get through the year, preparing for the arrival of the enigmatic Frost Shepherds in the winter. Throughout each season you’ll take turns drawing a card from the suit of the current season. Each individual card represents the events of a week and gives you the choice of two events, usually both good or both bad. You’ll weigh your choice carefully as you keep in the back of your mind… winter is coming.

When you play the game of RPGs you win or… well, you’ll see.

RanStacking – EP2 – Cruise Control

YouTube Link

Last time we rescued our slightly larger brother from a life of shovelling coal for the train system.

We move from a train level to a boat level, I think I see where this is going, one sibling per environment but first we have to solve a series of puzzles using our ability to stack and the abilities of the characters we stack into. I don’t see Charlie himself getting any new skills so it all will come down to the puzzles we are presented with and the folks we get to ride. Plus it seems like there is a handy rule of thumb for the number of levels, I am guessing it will be the same as the number of siblings, possibly siblings plus one for a final confrontation with the baron. But does anyone remember how many sibling Charlie has? I certainly don’t.

It also looks like there will be work to do in the hub area before we can move on to the later levels. The game helpfully tells me about some of the hijinks I can now get up to, but I will go into them a bit more next time, when I actually will play around with them a little more.

I should note that as of the time of these posts, all of the Double Fine games are on sale on Steam. I don’t know if it will drop lower during a daily or flash deal but Stacking is available for only $3.39 or your local equivalent

Jarenth Plays Starships — Episode 6: You Can’t Take Just One

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Starships, I paid a quick courtesy visit to Vadim Kozlov’s home planet, Hydrae 96. Then I took it over. My fleet defeated his fleet in straight-up combat, proving once and for all that super-powered fighter jets are way better than cumbersome planetary defense platforms. ‘Megabots’, my shiny metal…

I called immediate shore leave after that battle. Partially because the SS Defiant took a major beating, partially because crew energy levels were abysmal — their morale was excellent, but morale only gets you so far if you keep nodding off and your internal software keeps asking for update reboots — and partially to gloat. But mostly, mostly, to anticipate Vadim’s inevitable counterattack. I could have tried adding more planets to my empire in the interim, but here’s the thing: Hydrae 96’s resources equal about three normal planets. And I’m not about to lose this major payday to that Slavic space jockey just because I couldn’t sit still for five minutes.

After the break: Or for one galactic year, as the case actually turns out.

RanStacking – EP1 – A Brief Training Period

YouTube Link

Hi Ninja Blues reader, I am Ranneko, you may know me from the Ninja Blues comment section, the Star Realms Diaries or even more hopefully my YouTube channel. I am really excited to have the opportunity to contribute content to this site. The plan is specifically to share the let’s plays I do here, though I will note I also do other videos that can be found over on my channel.

For me these let’s plays are an excuse to try various games in my game library and talk about them as I play. Hopefully what I share is either entertaining, useful or interesting.

I am kicking off a new series with Stacking by Double Fine, which was one of their XBLA titles that eventually made its way to PC. I bought it some time ago but never got around to trying it out. All I could remember when I started this was that it was a puzzle game that involved Matryoshka dolls, so some viewers/readers may be much more familiar with the game than I am.

I was immediately caught out by the art style, I knew it involved dolls, but I didn’t really expect it to translate into the entire world being made out of toys and other building materials that emphasize the small size of all of the characters. From playing cards and pins to the occasional incandescent bulb the world really embraces the idea that someone is playing with these toys, someone with a massive collection and a great talent for building things. I am looking forward to see more in this world as the game progresses.

Indie Wonderland: Card Dungeon

I was drawn to Playtap GamesCard Dungeon primarily through the fancy graphic design. I mean, video games that emulate physical cards are not really uncommon, I could probably list a bunch of those. But games that actually try to emulate pop-up board game dungeons? Complete with cards, tiles, and little cardboard figurines standing in those plastic holder things that never quite manage to keep them upright? I’ve played just enough Hero Quest, and that odd Dungeons and Dragons Introduction Box thing, to have a very direct and visceral reaction to that.

And then I also learned that Card Dungeon was to be a roguelike dungeon exploration game, featuring fighting and looting and procedurally-generated cellulose halls, and hey! It was in my Steam library before I knew it. Cardboard glory, ho!

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low-medium. Mechanical, high.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Card Dungeon. Best shuffle your cards and prepare your miniatures, *game*, because… damnit, those plastic holder things never fit!

A New Challenger Approaches

Q: How is Ninja Blues like the popular Nintendo franchise Smash Brothers?

A: Our roster just got bigger, too!

Woop Woop Woop

That’s right, readers! After a long history of occasional cooperation, Ninja Blues Friend Ranneko has decided to become Ninja Blues Contributor Ranneko. While the brunt of his work will — as always — be posted on YouTube, the accompanying work that could previously be found on Ranneko’s Blogspot site will run on Ninja Blues from now on.

Ranneko intends to keep posting Let’s Play videos every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so look forward to a surge of new content on this site in the coming weeks. In fact, the first episode of RanStacking may well go live… tomorrow?

Stay tuned!

Jarenth Plays Starships — Episode 5: Second Verse

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Starships, I finally convinced several planets to join the United Federation on a full membership. Two planets, in fact: Doradus 24, my diplomatic beach resort home-away-from-home, and Draconis 96, Doradus’ sadly un-lizard-like closest friend and trading partner. I met back up with Vadim Kozlov and Samatar Jama Barre, although neither were particularly thrilled to see me, and I even made a second trip to Leporis 38 to undo the damage to my reputation Vadim’s fleet had done there.

And then, I found myself in an interesting spot. Leporis 38, you see, is only one jump away from Vadim’s home world. Vadim’s juicy, productive, valuable home world. The center of his Galactic Union, and the seat of his power. And I found myself thinking, imagining, daydreaming…

…wouldn’t putting my battle fleet in orbit around Hydrae 96 be the ultimate slap in the face?

After the break: I could do it, you know. It’d be as easy as clicking a single button. But should I?

Indie Wonderland: Polarity

And now for the Steam equivalent of a game I found in a clearance bin: Bluebutton GamesPolarity. Not to be confused with this Polarity, or with this Polarity, but which is actually the same game as this Polarity. The trailer reveals what I hesitate to call ‘Portal-esque’ first-person puzzle-platforming gameplay, which is probably one of the two reasons I bought the game on a whim.

The other reason would be that at time of purchase, Polarity ran me nineteen cents. Which is not entirely free, but for all intents and purposes… We’re talking three, maybe four Steam trading cards thrown on the market at sub-optimal pricing, and I’d come out ahead. And, call me strange, but I’m totally willing to blindly game on a game that costs less than even a tenth of a Big Mac.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, complete…ly unimportant. Mechanical, medium-high.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Polarity, a game I got for almost 95% off regular price. Will this affect my perceived enjoyment of it? It’s not entirely unlikely.

Tabled For Discussion: Murderous Ghosts


Someone once said ‘Hell is other people’. They were right. Specifically, Hell is trying to align a bunch of other people’s schedules so that they can all get together and play a game. Honestly, don’t they have a sense of priorities? One of the most common complaints from RPG players is the difficulties finding time when everyone is free. To play D&D, you likely have at least four people together, maybe as many as six or seven, for hours and hours. An RPG that sidesteps all of those logistics is almost a wonder in itself.

Keep reading to find out the perks and pitfalls of murdering your friends.

Jarenth Plays Starships — Episode 4: Minor Oversight

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Starships, I caught up with some ‘old friends’. It was weird seeing my former planet buddies again. And can you believe what Rejinaldo looks like now? I mean, I understand wanting to put as much distance between yourself and the Purity alignment as you reasonably can. But to go from that to Harmony? What a weird lateral move. That’s like trading a pair of ratty, beat-down loafers for a pair of undersized, chafing high heels. Both have their ups and downs, sure. But if you’re in the market to trade anyway, why not just get robot feet?

After a double meet ‘n greet, I went about the business of expanding my empire more. Thrice more did innocent planets call for help, and thrice more did the United Federation fleet lay the smack down on fleets of Marauders and pirates. My proto-empire is now larger than ever: no less than five planets willingly supply me with their adoration and resources. It’s not quite a galaxy-spanning Empire Of The Stars yet, but I’m getting there!

Just as long as I don’t end up forgetting some vital steps. But really, what are the odds of that happening?

After the break: Yeah, that shoe example isn’t my best-ever piece of writing. I tried real hard to come up with a comparison that didn’t suck. Obviously, I failed at that.