Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Labyrinth: Craftz!?

It's Kingston.
It's been scorching hot out these last few days.
But it's finally started to cool off today.
So let's throw some fuel on the fire!

It's a Sunday post, which for me is crrrrrazy, but I'm throwing out an all day challenge for anyone who reads the post today!
I'm going to be here watching the store all afternoon but I shall also be here for games night.
That certainly hasn't happened for a while...

So here's the game plan-
#1 Bring in a new game or at least one that hasn't been talked up on the blog yet and sit down with yours truly.
#2 We play the game!!
If it's a solid game I'll do a write up @ our normal blog time on Wednesday/Thursday!
#3 Your name and awesome idea will be mentioned and naturally become the talk of the town! Or at least mildly gossiped about by our tight community of gamers!

So bring it in and lay the challenge down VS El Henri Ze Jeuxmastah!
But you best bring your A game if you're throwing down the gauntlet with me.

I still think war paint or an intimidating 'I rule' flag is the best thing to bring with for challenges like this to really let your opponent know you mean seereus biznis!

The calm of Crafternoons shall soon be shattered by the blood curdling screams of gamers!
But that reminds me that I have been remiss in mentioning Crafternoons to date...
At least i don't recall giving it some interweb time.

So do you knit? Or sew? Crochet? Bead? Fold Origami? Sketch? Make odd constructions out of Popsicle sticks? Burp the alphabet backwards?

Well all of these are crafts!! And we here at Minotaur have been keenly pushing our Crafternoons every Sunday Afternoon from 1pm until when games night starts up at 5pm.
It's free! - AWESOME
And best of all it's a fantastic way to share ideas and just relax with close / new friends.

Justine, Gale, and often Ada have all been building this wonderful community of crafters from around Kingston. So far the response in turn out and atmosphere has been fantastic!
We continue to get new faces around the table but if any of you out there have just been wondering where to find a 'club' or 'activity group' that does this kind of stuff you absolutely need to come down and take advantage of this group.
Right now during the summer it's a smaller crowd of about 6-8 crafters but during the school year when it's a little more busy we typically had a dozen folks showing up.
This will be the 2nd year of Crafternoons come fall.
We'd love it if everyone reading this-

A: Brought in their craft and joined us for some great times.

B: Told family, friends, and complete strangers on the street to come out and participate.

Seriously the more the merrier :)
That's all for now folks!
Here's hoping I see a bunch of you out at games night tonight!

This has been the Labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game on!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Labyrinth: M-m-m-m-multi Posssst!

Greetings all!
It was thrilling to hear back from a handful of different people over this week that you all have been enjoying the blog!
It made me grin and blush and want to do a song and dance just like a happy little schoolgirl that...errr. just made me happy to hear some feedback. Let's just leave it at that...

I had been suffering away from Floccinaucinihilipilification, as I began to worry that perhaps my best efforts weren't being enjoyed.
(God I love using big words that I only partially understand :D)

But now I know better! *tears up and sniffles*
I will strive away and labor for at least an extra four or five minutes today out of a subconscious desire to try and make this post just a zillion times better!

Well, folks are still reading The Labyrinth!
So I had best keep all you readers entertained and informed on the world of gaming!
And before we get started on gaming / events in the store here's a blurb about some of our outstanding gamers of note lately that have put a few new accomplishments on their Championship gaming belts.

Quentin Janes -------Katrina Sauvé

^^^ The big weinerssSSssSSss! ^^^

Recently Minotaur has been host to a handful of competitions / tournaments and so we thought it would be nice to showcase those that claimed 1st place.
Though all players involved at both tourney's fought well there could be only one top settler and dominionist.

Through the round robin play of our 12-person Settlers North American Championship Lord Quentin managed to fight and claw his way to the final table of four. Those 4 seats were hotly contested indeed, as all 4 finalists (Niel, Kristi, Robert, and Quentin) had won 2 of the three matches they had played in round robin play in order to even get a shot at the title. That final game Quentin showed some true Settlers skills as he jumped from 6 to 10 points in a single turn surprising the opposition by laying down 2 points while simultaneous claiming the longest road by being the 1st to reach 5roads long.
Congrats to Quentin and Kudos on his 'gritty' championship pic.
- "Playing settlers LIKE A BOSS!!"

In a slightly smaller scale but equally harrowing tournament of Dominion (featuring the new release Cornucopia) her Ladyship Katrina Sauvé demonstrated her impressively honed Dominion strategies. For all but one game that entire day she went undefeated in game after game during the qualifying rounds and in the final claimed 4/5 prize cards to seal her overall victory! Posing above with her well earned prize she took home her very own copy of the game for ending up on top.
Congrats to Katrina as well for her exemplary performance!

Everyone who missed out on the tourneys will have to settle for making it out to the next event we host so keep your eyes peeled on The Labyrinth and in store for any new details as they become available!

But with that aside It's worth noting that the Princess Street Promenade is fast approaching!! The 30th of July is only a few weeks away and if this years turnout is anything like last years then thousands upon thousands of people will be crammed along Princess St. and spread out all over the downtown core!
With the main 'drag' closed to all traffic the weekend heralds a few days of pedestrian shopping and activities like few others during the year.

I knew it would be a big event last year when downtown Kingston store-owners rallied together to get the ball rolling but I didn't expected the day to be a success on such a humongous scale.
I mean you hear that Kingston has X-thousand people as a population but other than when the queens students are marching about in force you would never guess that our city has the #'s that it does. On last years promenade you could look left from princess and division and look straight down at the water and see a constant blanket elbow to elbow of Kingstonians.
Simply amazing...don't miss it this year guys!

But what's new at the store!?!?
It's true I have been neglectful thus far in the blog of new product.
How about Hexbugs! *cheers*
Well...sure we've had some before...but we haven't had the battle-bridge yet or the remote controlled spiders ^_^
Both of which are cool but the environmental sets are what I like the best.
I was grinning ear to ear when I checked in the battle-bridges.
There's already something insanely amusing about watching a hexbug nano buzz and bump around, am I right?
Now.... picture that but with it doing it atop a bridge of doom in a pitched battle against a 2nd nanobug!
*covers eyes and peeks between his fingers*

It's one of those things like a lava lamp that I could literally watch for several hours and forget about all else in the multi-verse.
Definitely interesting gifts for anyone with a b-day coming up.

Ah! I haven't mentioned any games yet?
Right, well it's outside our normal board game niche but MTG!!!

A new core set for the year, if that's not worth at least a mention then what is?
It's the highly anticipated and much awaited M12 or 2012 core set release.
Mreow? Core set? What's the diff magic is magic isn't it?
Well for those that don't play magic or just play it casually with friends then here's the educational segment of the post! Here's the rundown...
MTG has several formats of play such as standard,legacy,extended,vintage, etc.
Each one has different blocks of cards that are legal for play and the rules vary slightly between tournaments. Some allow players who have cards from different sets spanning years and years to play with their entire collections while standard tournaments only allow cards from the current core set and two most recent blocks.

So once per year they put out a new base core set that's going to stick around for at least a year and that time is now!! So I encourage any players who haven't been collecting much Magic the Gathering of late to come on down to the store and get back into the swing of things.
We have individual boosters, pre-made decks, and at least 1 fat pack left for the time being.
I myself just dropped a hefty amount on stocking up on some boosters so join me in hunting for those planeswalkers and I'll see any of you that play up at4c8b.
I'm going to make a point of going to more Friday night magic events there or drafts on Tuesdays if I'm not at D&D.

Mmmmh did someone say D&D?
I've pretty much exhausted my poor little brain of all it's current topics to blogify on so I figure for an encore to make this a true MULTIPOST I'll add my 2nd installment of the creative writing corner following the adventures set in Duponde based loosely on this seasons D&D Encounters that are happening right here at the store every Thursday from 5 to 7 and 7 to 9!
If this piques your interest while reading my efforts at cheezy fantasy literature then by all means come down to the store and join in the roleplaying fun.
At any rate here's hoping you all enjoy.

Also feedback!
Now that I know some folks are reading this semi regularly.
If any of you want to hear about particular games, wish there were upcoming events in-store, have any questions that desperately need answering by a semi-game expert like our invisible game consultant Gonzo, or if you just want to bash or compliment some aspect of the blog then feel free!
Start up a debate about which games rules more!
What are your predictions, is 'Kittens In a Blender' going to be as much fun as the cheap ass games 'Kill Doctor Lucky'?!?
What's the best way to win a game of Puerto Rico vs Settlers since one relies heavily on board layout and luck while the other relies almost entirely on player based decisions.
Don't be shy, no one here bites... not hard at any rate.
But now on to the story! Grab some hot chocolate or coffee it's a longish one.

This has been the Labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game On!

The Labyrinth: Writing Corner! One Dark Night on the Fell Part 2

One Dark Night on the Fell Part: 2

Ariel: The Wizard
Feris: The Rogue
Cale: The Paladin
Framrit: The Blackguard

The heavy sound of their feet splashing through the muddy streets echoed eerily.
As they rushed down the back alleys the buildings and lamp posts twisted at odd angles that defied the laws of the prime material.
But this was the shadowfell...
It heeded no such rules.

They had been fighting all night against all manner of foul creatures.
Saving Tilda's establishment, 'The Old Owl Inn', had been the least of the trio's concerns.
The entire town of Duponde was now under siege and to make matters worse the suspected culprits of the dark rituals had been spotted fleeing out the south gates.
With them went any answers as to how to reverse the dreaded shadowfall.

Dusk beasts, leeching shadows, lurking spirits, and dark spider swarms had plagued the streets and the nearby armory. Dead on their feet they had been fighting since midnight and their limbs had begun to grow heavy. Only their new shadowy companion Framrit seemed unaffected by the icy cold of the shadowfell's ever present gloom.
Yet on they ran towards their new destination.
The cemetery.

" said that the graveyard holds a clue to what disturbed the town. How can you know for certain that there will be a lead there to follow? The shadow fiends and lost souls seem to be appearing randomly throughout the town with nothing linking them to the graves!"

"Commmmmon cale there's eeky creepies all over town and you think the graveyard ISN'T linked somehow?"

"I just think we risk much...putting all the villager's lives in jeopardy like this to chase down what could be another dead end. We arrived just in time at both the armory and the city square and he can offer us no proof to his claim other than he senses a 'disturbance' ."

"I tell you paladin...something is there. Whether it will rectify the situation or not remains to be seen but it's presence is not in question. A dark emanation calls from deep within those burial grounds."

"He speaks truth Cale. There is the graveyard! And now that we are closer i can sense magic...strong perverse magic leaking from the center. "

"I do not doubt his ability to sense this energy Ariel, but his claim that he simply wishes to fix it as we do is what doesn't sit right with me."

Framrit's eyes narrowed as he suddenly turned on the paladin.
There was a bright flash and the clash of blades echoed down the side street.
Ferris had jumped aside and Ariel gasped in shock as the bright white and frosty blue swords crossed between them shuddering from the power behind each adventurer's grip.
Cale glared back as the dwarf grated out each word.

"I've helped to save your pathetic townsfolk countless times tonight...and your own miserable lives as well. If it served me to have you dead paladin of Pelor trust that I would have slain you in your sleep before you even knew of my presence."

"Truly the way that any cur would hmm? In the dead of night you'd slit a man's throat like a coward rather than face him in combat."

Ferris broke the tension in the air with a loud yawn as he over dramatically leaned against a nearby barrel, fishing inside to relieve the container of some of its contents.

"Well that would be the sensible thing to do Cale...don't want to go toe to toe with a big bruiser like yourself if you don't needta right?" Ferris said picking his round nose a bit. "Basic survival tip one, only fight when you need to."

Ariel watched in disgust as the halfling flicked the slime and boogers free from his stubby finger and without wiping his hand pulled out a semi rotten apple from the barrel and took a bite.

"Enough you two...put your blades down and use that anger for the night's work...whatever magic is there at the cemetery is not diminishing on its own. And by everything that is HOLY Ferris put that down and wipe your hand you disgusting beast. You'll make yourself sick eating that filth!"

"Mmm *munch* fank you mudder! *munch munch*" Ferris mumbled between bites as he let the half finished fruit tumble to the muddy alleyway.

Cale glanced at his companions and then back to the dwarf as he slid his weapon away, carefully disengaging. Framfrit did the same in turn, but as he sheathed his blade he made the point of flashing his sinister grin at the paladin once more.

Something about him was just... off.
He could feel it though Cale couldn't place it, but something lurked within the pale-skinned dwarf that gave him the shivers.

"Don't think our quarrel is over. I have my eyes on you Framrit, and I'll be making sure you aren't up to anything."

"You can try lad...there's nothing to stop you from trying." He grated back, his words as cold as the dead of a winter night.


The dim light flooded down the stairs, glowing an eerie greenish hue, pulsing from the tip of the stranger's staff. He moved as though he was injured or simply favoring his left side but also moved with a certain calm and assuredness. As the robed figure reached the bottom of the stairs he hissed in disdain at the state of the floors.
Pacing through the underground old hallways he casually flicked a hand towards a puzzled guard that had begun to ask him what he was doing there.
In a heartbeat the pour soul's skin melted, peeled back, and flayed to a pulp. Within seconds the robed figure disintegrated the guard down to loose flesh and bare bones as necrotic energy laced through his corpse.
Normally he would have tortured the fool more extensively but he didn't have time for delays nor the patience to understand why ruffians were living at his former abode.

When at last his hazel eyes scanned over the remains of his laboratory that lay strewn about the ruined basement floor his eyes narrowed with rage. The blasted Pelorites had come...they had taken or destroyed everything of worth. They would pay dearly for their attempts to limit his research. Behind and within the hazel orbs that were Nathaire's eyes another sentient presence controlled the half elf's movements and thoughts.

His name had been Vontarin.

A deep violet gleam could be seen behind his iris's as a pale mist leaked from the corners of his eyes. This frail body was weak compared to when Vontarin had been alive but at least this 'Nathaire' possessed enough common sense to recognize the true power he would bring to his body by siding with him.

First he would gather his belongings from the monastery and then he would deal with returning properly to the land of the living. Evard would not have the last say in this...and once Vontarin stood once more returned to the mortal coil he would reap such vengeance on the town of Duponde. Its backwater villagers and quaint cemetery had served as his prison for all these years and he owed them a swift and bloody culling.
Soon...very soon.
He could almost taste it.


"FERIS! Fall back to the crypt! There's too many, their numbers seem endless...if we stay out here much longer we'll be surrounded and overwhelmed!"

"Oh no way... you're not weaseling you way out of this one Cale!" Feris shouted back as he leapt atop a tombstone to get a better view of the hordes of oncoming zombies.

"I told you, two gold says i can take down two with one sling-stone!"

Feris cackled madly as he launched off stone after stone from his tiny sling, most shots smashing through the decrepit skull of one of the advancing undead.

"I didn't even ACCEPT your bet Feris!! Now get over here you delusional little halfing before they reach you."

Cale swung his sword about fending off the raking clawed hands of the zombies.
They were slow and unintelligent undead it was true but brutishly strong.
If one could manage to grab a hold of you the others would mob you in a pack and tear you into pieces. Cale had dealt with the like before...he also guessed these zombies were not alone...
Backing up towards the cracked crypt doors he shouted over his shoulder to their wizardly companion.

"Hows it coming in there Ariel?!? We can't keep this up all day out here!"

"By the makers and everything that is good do you REALLY think the subtle art of the arcane can simply be rushed along by shouting hurry hurry?!? This level of craft takes time!! I am utilizing years of carefully honed skills..."

Feris popped his head inside the door and raised an eyebrow skeptically.

"Really? Because it kinda looks like youre just waving your hands about and humming to yourself...I'm no expert...but I bet I could do that..."

"If you don't want us all dead then by the light get him out of here!!!" Ariel shrieked.

Cale's gauntlet slammed down upon Feris' back and hoisted him up to eye level. Feris sheepishly grinned and Cale scowled furiously.

"So help Pelor...Feris!! If you don't..."

Cale paused as he glanced over at the wall of advancing undead, their numbers swelling by the second as fresh corpses ripped themselves out of the damp earth.
This wasn't working.
They needed them down en-masse.
Ever the quick thinker Cale was not without a plan.

"Feris...if you can kill those zombies...and i mean ALL those zombies...for one night I swear upon my oath as a paladin that I will buy you as MUCH food as you can possibly eat."

Feris' eyes widened like dinner plates and his small mouth hung open. For once in his life the halfling was speechless. The chanting inside from Ariel started back up again as she tried to concentrate her efforts to halt the leaking of necrotic energy that was spilling out from the opened coffin.

"Do we have a deal Feris...because we don't really have time for haggling..." Cale asked desperately as he glanced to the wall of zombies no more that 40feet away now.


Feris started talking his voice hoarse and unusually distant.

" may just be the single greatest paladin in the history...of ever."


"Put me down....I have several hundred meals to earn." Feris said sternly.

The moment his small little feet touched down on the soil he was off rocketing at the crowd. His daggers flashed as he spun his sling about, firing off rocks at his enemies.
Feris was renowned for his trick shots and tonight he set about proving his reputation, ricocheting sling stones off multiple zombies heads at once.
Entire sections of the undead host toppled back to the earth whence they had come.
Darting between zombies legs Feris' bloodcurdling dinner screams could be heard even if the diminutive juggernaut could rarely be seen. He was so fast and quick that all that could be seen of him was the occasional fluttering of his cloak or the glint of his steel in the moonlight.

Cale grinned to himself as he too waded into the combat. Blessing his sword with radiant power and causing his shield to shed the brightest of sunlight he illuminated the surrounding graveyard.

"Fight on brave Feris...fight on. We must buy her as much time as we can..." He whispered to himself as he held the path in front of the crypt.

Ariel's eyes traced back and forth quickly as though in a trance. Her eyes had become milky white orbs as she tried desperately to find the source. The magic here was intense, enough to make any novice enchantress collapse under the sheer magical pressure that the coffin was putting out. Ariel's fingers desperately traced runes into the air as glowing magical lines sprung from her fingertips as she wove containment seals about the room. This was the most potent of dark energies and normally she would not attempt this type of spell without a host of other spellcasters aiding her. But tonight she was doing what she hated most when it came to magic but she had become quite used to this when it came to traveling with her band of friends.
Ariel was improvising.

Cale's head swung about his eyes scanning the tombstones but he couldn't see the dwarf anywhere.
That blasted Blackguard had run off the second that the zombies has started appearing.
No doubt this had been his plan all along...unable to best them three on one he lured them here to the graveyard where his undead minions would tear them apart.
He swore to himself if they somehow lived through the night he would find and take his vengeance upon the sinister dwarf.

The paladin was wretched from his thoughts as he heard a pained howl come from behind one of the tombstones.

"Feris?!? I'm coming little one! HOLD ON!"

Cale fought like a mad man trading blows with the zombies in order to push through them. He grunted in pain as even his full plate couldn't fully protect him from the zombie's gnashing teeth and tearing claws. But his friend was in peril and his own safety meant little.
Hacking through them with little more than sheer will power Cale was just in time to see a gravely wounded Feris darting between the tombstones and monuments with a large ghoul in hot pursuit. The halfling's arm hung limply at his side as he fled helter skelter through the graveyard and to Cale's dismay the ghoul appeared much faster, gaining ground on his companion by the second.

"FERIS!! Over here!" Cale shouted out loudly.

He had to hope that his companion would hear him as Cale took a course that would intercept the pair. But would he be in time?

He rounded a large fountain and was greeted by the dark form of something large slamming into him hard. Cale's lungs exploded with pain as he slammed into the dirt.
He swung above at the heavy form that was atop of him but couldn't connect from the odd angle.
Another ghoul had caught Cale by surprise in his desperation to reach Feris and now had him pinned against the fountain, its teeth diving forward into the side of his neck.
All he could smell was rotting flesh and the putrid stink of the festering sores that covered the vile creature's body.
He stabbed upwards with his sword blindly as the ghoul feasted upon him.
Cale was rewarded with a hiss as he scored a gash along the ghoul's side but the beast quickly shifted positions. Both its hands reached down and wrapped around his neck throttling the paladin as its feet pinned his sword arm to the ground.

Everything became hazy.
His vision swam as he looked about for Feris.
He tried to heave his arm free but he watched in slow motion as his fingers lost their grip on the hilt of the sword.
Somewhere faint and far off he imagined he could hear its metallic clatter as the sword connected with the masonry of the fountain.
The ghoul grinned down at him as the paladin realized that the ghoul's horrid face was the last thing he would ever see.

To be continued...

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Labyrinth: The 7th Underground Wonder in Smallworld Village.

My my my. Titles galore came in today!

After several weeks, or hell, even months of saying "nope same old" or "nothing yet"
I can now say when someone walks in and asks: What's new? "LOTS!" back in response.
And that for me is refreshing...

It's been several years now since I started working at Minotaur.
Honestly I've always loved playing games but when I 1st started working here I played all types and always gave everything at least a try or two without reservation.
But I'm not sure I ever fully appreciated how important it was to have new games being released to revitalize our interest in gaming culture, the activity that we gamers have come to hold so dear.
When a new stand alone or expansion is released it washes in like a breath of fresh air and suddenly it heralds the start of dozens of new entertaining gaming evenings.

Nowadays I think I'm a bit more choosy in what I play...
I wont just try something because it's new or flashy.
And yet I find myself reading up about upcoming games before they ever hit the shelf, waiting with baited breath for titles I've been dying to try.
And on the other side of that coin I find myself dismissing certain games just because of the style of game play or the lack or excess of certain components.

"B-but the halo focus group really thought this would
be a good idea for the game, misters..."

I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...
But I can say with confidence that this all star line-up of games that just came out are amazzzzzzing!

So where to start...
The original is such a solid game and already had expansions.
So did it really need something new to add to the Smallworld universe you might ask?
Maybe not but I'm so glad that they decided to develop the game further because Smallworld Underworld looks like one of the most enjoyable titles for 2011.
It's a stand alone game but can also be played and incorporated into the base game so it packs a double punch when considering its re-playability.
Complete with a new scaling board based again on the # of players, new races / characteristics, and new game mechanics like heavily fortified neutral races defending relics.
Words to describe it?
Simply Epic...
I haven't had a chance to play it yet but I'd easily vote it an 8 out of 10 with the possibility of rating it higher once we get a store copy or once someone brings their freshly bought copy wih them.
*breathes in deeply*
Gotta love that new bitz smell =P

But I was also so very recently exposed to a full game of 7 wonders.
My rating of this game has actually increased to an 8.5 out of 10 despite myself and I'll make that edit to my previous post shortly.
I found myself enjoying it a fair deal more than I though I would in terms of a drafting game. And the best part was that I could immediately see the scope of it as a 2player vs 3 vs 4 vs 5 etc! And it will literally be a different game with each play through due to the combination of cards in hand and the wonders being played make it one I'm looking forward to trying again soon, hopefully with the 7 wonders Leaders Expansion in tow.
It adds Leader cards into the mix to increase the methods in which to score, each one boosting certain colored cards or acting as point multipliers from what I can see. So again...if you own it BRING IT.
Can't wait to play this on a games night.

Cooperative gaming also just got Miskatonic as the new big expansion to Arkham Horror. Dominion Cornucopia and The Village both burst onto the scene as well so the shelves haven't had such exciting new titles for ages.
Next I have to hope that both Game of Thrones comes back into print and they make something new and cool in lieu of the tv series and all >.< It's a long shot but one can have dreams of a cool game in which stark troops battle lannister on a frozen battlefield in the north... Man oh man a risk style Game of Thrones would be an awesome addition to any gamers' collection compared to the more diplomacy based game that is already out.

But honestly I think that so many military games flopped recently that the corporate game designers must be banging their underlings heads together to straighten out the slew of less than successful games that have been coming out in this field.

Glad to see at least that the Eurostyle games are still doing things right and producing quality over shiny unit pieces.
And many of them have both!
Gorgeous bitz and the game play still rocks.
Definitely July has been the best month for board gaming this year so far.
But as good as it's been there are more titles on the horizon for the start of August.
So keep tuned in to this station for further updates!! Same game time same game channel!!

This has been the Labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game on!